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How the 988 national mental health crisis helpline works in Northeast Ohio

988 is the new Suicide Prevention number. [Lisa Ryan / Ideastream Public Media]
988 is the new Suicide Prevention number. [Lisa Ryan / Ideastream Public Media]

President Joe Biden has declared mental health a national crisis.  Rates of anxiety and depression that had been growing over the past decade accelerated dramatically over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many experts say that there is currently a greater need for behavioral health specialists than ever before, and some people seeking resources have to wait several months before being able to get in for an appointment with a therapist.

This has made it even harder for people to get help during a mental health emergency. Currently the majority of people faced with a crisis dial 9-1-1, but these services are not equipped to handle these issues because few first responders have been trained to diffuse crisis scenarios.

There is growing concern that police can actually escalate the situation further, and many victims of fatal police shootings that have occurred in the last year were people dealing with a mental health emergency who contacted police seeking help. To help address this issue the United States has launched a new national suicide and crisis hotline, 9-8-8. The new three-digit number is being used in place of the old 1-800 number. This number is easier to remember, and centralizes where people can call for help. It also aims to make mental health care more accessible to everyone in the United States.

Today on the Sound of Ideas, we're speaking to someone directly involved with the implementation of the hotline here in northeast Ohio.

Later, the monarch butterfly is a frequent backyard visitor to Northeast Ohio. But a global conservation organization says the butterfly's numbers have dropped so much as to make it an endangered species--with action needed to prevent the possibility of extinction. Ahead we talk to two local experts about the plight faced by the monarch butterfly, what is says about our current environmental situation and steps that can be taken now to help.


Rick Oliver, Director of  Crisis Services,  FrontLine Services 
Nicole Gunter, Ph.D., Entomologist, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, Cleveland Museum of Natural History 
Bethany Majeski, Manager, North Chagrin Nature Center, Cleveland Metroparks  

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."