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Nevada prepared for launch of mental health hotline — 988 — in July

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No matter who’s doing the polling, Nevada regularly ranks among the worst states for mental illness and its treatment.

And we don’t fare much better when it comes to state residents who attempt or commit suicide.

Fortunately, a new, easy-to-remember hotline aims to improve mental health care. And Nevada is one of only four states that has passed legislation to pay for it.

The hope is that 988, becomes the 911 for mental health emergencies and suicide prevention.

Veronica Portillo-Bradford with the state’s department of health and human services said it’s been in the works for some time.

The pandemic allowed understanding of the urgency for the number and other mental health resources – job loss, grief, isolation are all detrimental to mental health.

Right now, if someone was having a mental health crisis, substance abuse crisis or emotional distress, their immediate options include the state’s crisis support services.

“They're a fantastic organization that have staff and volunteers who answer the crisis calls and texts, as well as their sexual assault support services, 24/7-365,” Portillo-Bradford said. “And then we also do have the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which will soon be turned into 988, but either number can be contacted.”

She said it’s a step forward to strengthening crisis care in Nevada. The centers are hiring licensed counselors now, ahead of the July 16 launch. 

Camelot Todd said it isn’t just a hotline launch, it’s “an entire initiative to create a crisis behavioral health care system, which is something that hasn't been done in America.”

The freelance mental health reporter said if de-escalation isn’t possible over the phone, they’ll have a mobile response team to come to you. 

“This is probably an inflection point in our nation's history and in Nevada's history, where we are finally recognizing that mental health care is necessary,” she said. “I think Nevada has the unfortunate history of having so few resources that it made it made that lack of investment even more noticeable.”

 

Veronica Portillo-Bradford, health program specialist, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services;  Camalot Todd, freelance mental health reporter

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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.