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California Considering 9-8-8 Mental Health Crisis Number

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Sacramento, CA — Rather than having people call 9-1-1 during a mental health crisis, California lawmakers will debate whether to create a new 9-8-8 emergency number.

It would be staffed by counselors and mental health professionals, who would be assisted by local mobile crisis support teams.

Assembly Bill 988 is authored by Democrat Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and backed by several non-profits who focus on mental health issues.

They argue that it would be more beneficial for people to speak first with mental health experts instead of law enforcement officials. In addition, if someone calls 9-1-1 with a mental health emergency, the dispatcher would have the ability to transfer the caller to 9-8-8.

Bauer Kahan says, “A comprehensive crisis response system can help prevent tragedies, save money, and increase access to the right kind of care.”

The bill was introduced yesterday, and it remains unclear what type of support it will receive in the legislature, and the related costs to implement it. The state’s police and sheriff’s associations have not yet taken a stance on it.


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