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New 9-8-8 suicide prevention lifeline & Milwaukee County Mental Health Emergency Center receive federal funding

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, addictions have become worse and mental health crises have gone unaddressed.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, people with mental health issues and substance addiction have been facing an uphill battle. Isolation and an inability to access care as health care systems became overburdened and caused many people to relapse. In that time, addictions have become worse and mental health crises have gone unaddressed.

Democrats in Congress are hoping increased funding will help ease these issues, including new funding for a 9-8-8 suicide prevention lifeline and the Mental Health Emergency Center in Milwaukee County.

"I'm very proud of having fought for funding, specifically for Milwaukee County, to support the construction of a mental health emergency center, a long identified need in the community," says U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin.

The center will provide emergency care for kids and adults experiencing a mental health crisis, and provide health assessments and access to other mental health services. The center is expected to open in 2022.

Sen. Baldwin says the ultimate goal is to create a system where mental health crises are given the same, immediate resources available to other health crises, but it hasn't been easy to make these changes.

She explains, "As much as we have tried bypassing laws and modifying laws, there still is some significant lack of equity in terms of insurance coverage and accessibility to [mental health] treatments."

The 9-8-8 suicide prevention lifeline will launch in July 2022, a 3-digit number meant to replace the current suicide prevention lifeline which has 10-digits. Baldwin says she hopes the 9-8-8 lifeline will include culturally competent care for people based on their specific needs, including screening for veterans, who deal with mental health problems at a higher rate than the general public.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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