Rep. Stewart named co-chair of bipartisan 988 & Crisis Services Task Force

Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), John Katko (R-NY), and Tony Cardenas (D-CA) announced the formation of a new Bipartisan House 988 & Crisis Services Task Force. The task force will operate under the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, and it will serve to ensure effective implementation of the new 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Rep. Stewart was named co-chair of this bipartisan task force to provide crisis care services nationwide.

“I couldn’t be prouder to co-chair this bipartisan task force and elevate the conversation around suicide prevention,” said Rep. Stewart. “My 988-designation bill was a positive step in the right direction, but our work is just beginning. This is an issue that hits home for everyone – suicide is a top ten cause of death nationwide, as well as in my home state. It’s well past time that Americans struggling with mental health challenges get the help they need, and this bipartisan task force will work tirelessly to do exactly that.”

“Our communities, local mental health providers, and many states have already begun preparing for 988, and Congress must continue to partner in this critical effort,” Rep. Napolitano said. “As the founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, I am very pleased to announce this new task force and I commend Congressmen Cárdenas and Stewart for their willingness to lead it, to ensure effective implementation of 988. We can and must all continue to raise awareness of 988, further reduce stigma, and let anyone in crisis know that is always okay to ask for help.”

As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Mental Health Caucus, I am proud to join my colleagues in unveiling the Bipartisan House 9-8-8 & Crisis Services Task Force,” said Rep. Katko. “As the roll out of 9-8-8 begins, we have heard from communities that are concerned they will not have the ability to meet the surging demand for crisis support.  This task force will work to effectively implement the new 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and ensure crucial services are available to those in need. 9-8-8 will save lives, and together, this task force will ensure every person in a mental health crisis is able to dial just three numbers to get the help they need.”

“988 will change the trajectory of how we respond to those in crisis, but only if we implement it collaboratively,” said Congressman Cárdenas. “Our task force will be key in ensuring Congress continues to support 988 and crisis services as they launch across the country. Together we can work towards a future where mental health and substance use crises—just like any other kind of medical emergencies—receive the care they deserve, with someone to call, someone to come and somewhere to go. Thank you to all of our colleagues who are joining us in the fight to make 988 and crisis services accessible and reliable for everyone in America.”

In 2020, the United States Congress unanimously passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, designating 9-8-8 as a universal telephone number for the purpose of suicide prevention, mental health, and substance use crisis assistance. 988 is set to go live as a 24-7, nationwide emergency hotline in July 2022, and it is critical that all states are equipped to implement these lifesaving interventions.

The 988 & Crisis Services Task Force serves as a bipartisan forum for Members of Congress and their staff to work together to effectively implement 988 and the infrastructure to provide crisis care services nationwide, so that every person in crisis, and their family, receives a humane response that treats them with dignity and connects them to appropriate and timely care. To meet these goals, the task force also serves to educate colleagues on the impact of effective crisis services in increasing access to care, improving health outcomes, achieving cost-savings, and reducing unnecessary burden on law enforcement.