DHS: Thousands more Wis. residents than expected utilize 988 hotline

DHS anticipates over 70,000 Wis. resident to utilize 988 hotline during first year
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 6:49 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The suicide and prevention lifeline, 988, was introduced to Wisconsin in July of 2022, and since then thousands of Wisconsin residents have taken advantage of the resource. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said in the summer of 2021 that Vibrant Emotional Health provided a projections report, saying Wisconsin would receive 55,000 calls in the first year of 988, but the state is on pace for 70,000 calls.

Crisis services coordinator at DHS Caroline Crehan Neumann said no matter the crisis, the people on the other side of the phone have the resources and knowledge to help those who need it.

“You can call, chat, or text the service and you will be connected with a mental health counselor who is trained in a myriad of topics, whether it be financial stress, relationship stress, challenges with a mental health diagnosis, whether that be depression or anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, you name it the people that you will connect with have the resources and knowledge to be able to help people who are looking for help,” she said.

Crehan Neumann said people are becoming more comfortable with being vulnerable, especially when they can remain anonymous.

“A lot of people really enjoy the chatting or the texting experience because it’s a little slower paced, it maybe feels a little less intrusive,” Neumann continued.

Psychologist at Connections Counseling Will Howell said one word comes to mind when he hears 988 -- relief.

“As a provider, I don’t feel like I’m on a silo when somebody else is in that crisis, that triage, so that’s really important,” Howell said. “And relief also for the client in the sense that they now have access to somebody they can call when they need that help.”

Howell said having access to helpful mental health resources is a privilege and there are many barriers to getting that assistance, but the hotline offers a safe refuge.

You can call or text 988 for free, confidential service from trained crisis counselors 24/7. You can also chat at 988lifeline.org.

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