BATON ROUGE, La. – This May, observed annually as Mental Health Awareness Month, the Louisiana Department of Health is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline is available 24/7 to anyone in mental health distress or who may be worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. 988 crisis counselors are trained to help reduce the intensity of a situation for the person seeking help and connect them to additional local resources, as needed, to support their wellbeing.
Devastating hurricanes, the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic have tested the mental health and wellness of Louisianans from all walks of life over the past several years. Too many of us are experiencing mental health-related distress without the support and care we need. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics:
“Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity for us to recommit to raising awareness about the importance of mental health in the lives of all Louisianans,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available to anyone in mental health distress. If you’re depressed, going through a hard time, thinking about suicide or just need to talk, 988 is for you. 988 is for all of us.”
As part of the 988 awareness campaign, LDH is launching an online 988 Dashboard providing transparency on key metrics of crisis call data from Louisiana’s two 988 crisis centers. The dashboard, which will be updated monthly, contains metrics on accessibility, referral source, reason for the call, and some outcomes, but they do not contain historical summaries. Demographic data is available for only about 20% of calls, as it is not always possible to collect data during a crisis call. Calls to 988 are confidential and any self-reported data is aggregated before sharing with the public. We hope that this will reassure callers that they can remain anonymous when calling 988.
According to the dashboard, among Louisiana callers self-reporting their information to 988:
Starting this week, LDH will also launch public service announcements (PSAs) in English and Spanish on 75 radio stations across the state promoting the 988 Lifeline’s 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors.
“Together, we can help to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment and services. We can do so by starting the conversation. Talk about it. And, remember: It’s OK to not be OK,” said Karen Stubbs, assistant secretary of the LDH Office of Behavioral Health. “Your feelings are valid and you are not alone.”