Jul 14, 2022 - News

Iowa prepares for launch of 988 mental health hotline

Data: National Academy for State Health Policy; Map: Nicki Camberg/Axios

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline launches its new 988 hotline Saturday but there's uncertainty about whether Iowa and other states can handle the calls, Iowa Public Radio (IPR) reports.

  • Iowa is one of many states that has not introduced legislation to fund the congressionally mandated number to call or text to reach trained counselors.

Why it matters: It's intended to improve access to mental health assistance.

Yes, but: There continues to be staffing concerns due to difficulty in hiring, Emily Bloome, the CEO of Foundation 2 Crisis Services, a Cedar Rapids-based group that assists with the lifeline, told IPR.

Catch up fast: Former President Donald Trump signed bipartisan legislation in 2020 to change the line's 10-digit number, requiring states to implement it by July 16, 2022.

  • The mandate came with about $3 million in annual federal funding to Iowa but one estimate projects it will cost closer to $4.4 million, IPR reports.

What's happening: Iowa is waiting to see the demand for the new hotline to assess whether federal allocations are adequate, Marissa Eyanson, the division administrator of mental health and disability services at the Iowa Department of Human Services told IPR.

  • It's unlikely that enough data will be available to review the matter before next year's legislative session, she said.

Bottom line: Calls will be answered but it's possible some will be routed to a center that is unfamiliar with local resources, Axios' Adril Bettelheim reports.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more