Oklahoma is gearing up for the arrival of the 988 Mental Health Lifeline this summer and has selected a vendor to operate the statewide call center, which will be located in Oklahoma City and employ 31 people.
988 is the number approved by the Federal Communications Commission to replace the 11-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. The change came after mental health and suicide prevention advocates asked Congress for a shorter, easier-to-remember number for individuals in crisis.
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) is coordinating the statewide rollout of the mental health lifeline as part of its comprehensive crisis response system. The call center is only one aspect of the program, which also includes mobile crisis response, crisis receiving and stabilization services, and follow-up appointments.
Eventually, the center will integrate with the 911 system, as so many 911 calls are mental health-related, said Carrie Slatton-Hodges, ODMHSAS commissioner.
Solari Crisis & Human Services will operate the statewide call center. Solari’s Arizona crisis line is one of the top-performing hotlines in the country. Solari is well-acquainted with system buildouts in states with large rural areas, said Slatton-Hodges.
“This company has developed customized technology to build a system that has been extremely successful,” she said. “They are experts at recognizing people in crisis and connecting them to the guidance and services they need.”
Solari has helped thousands of individuals and families get connected to help through their crisis call center, she added. Additionally, Solari offers a continuum of crisis and human services, including a 24/7 peer-support Warm Line, Serious Mental Illness (SMI) determinations, 2-1-1 information and referral, dispatch services and other in-kind services to the community.
“People who are calling the crisis line need someone on the other end of that phone line,” she said. “This company has done a tremendous job doing that. With the mental health impact of the pandemic and rising suicide rates, the implementation of the 988 number could not come at a more critical time.”
Solari is in the process of establishing an Oklahoma City location and will be hiring 31 positions.
About ODMHSAS 988 Mental Health Lifeline
The 988 Mental Health Lifeline is designated as a three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to be launched in late summer of 2022. The 988 Mental Health Lifeline will operate 24/7 and offer services for mental health crisis calls. Operators are licensed and certified health crisis specialists who answer calls, connect to and dispatch local services and mobile crisis teams.