Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683
Following Gov. Evers’ declaration that 2023 is the Year of Mental Health, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today that the implementation of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in Wisconsin is moving to its next phase—a year-long multimedia campaign to ensure all state residents know this free and confidential service is here to support people experiencing a suicidal, mental health, or substance use crisis.
In the State of the State address last month, Gov. Evers announced that he will include about $3 million in state funds for staffing and other needs of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in his 2023-2025 Executive Budget. The funding is part of a $500 million package of investments in all parts of Wisconsin’s system of care for mental health and substance use concerns.
“The message of this campaign is simple: no matter where you are in the state, if you’re experiencing a mental health emergency or substance use concern, help is available,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. “The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is here and ready to help. Call, text, or chat 24/7 to reach a trained counselor. You can also contact this service if you’re concerned about someone you know.”
The campaign begins Sunday with an advertisement during the Super Bowl in the Green Bay-Appleton, Eau Claire-La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, and Wausau-Rhinelander television markets. This ad will be shown on broadcast and cable television beginning Monday throughout 2023. The campaign also includes ads on billboards, broadcast radio, streaming audio services, streaming video services, social media, and websites that will premiere in phases in the coming weeks. The online ads are designed to connect with populations at higher risk for mental health and substance use emergencies, including members of the Black, LGBTQIA+, and Indigenous communities; teens; middle-aged men; and veterans.
“Our goal at this point is to continue to build understanding of this critical resource by placing messages in places we know people will see them as they go about their day,” said Standridge. “We want people who are feeling stressed or who are in emotional pain to know that there is help available to them.”
The approach of this campaign is based on the findings of focus groups, surveys, and other research regarding what messages and tactics would relate to Wisconsin residents.
People and organizations wishing to raise awareness of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline are invited to share the campaign materials. Copies of the advertisements will be available Monday at 988wisconsin.org.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline began operation of 24/7 call, text, and chat support in July of last year. Previously, people needed to contact a 10-digit phone number for assistance. There was no text option and online chats were limited.
All calls, texts, and chats to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline are answered by counselors trained to assess a person’s needs, reduce their stress, provide emotional support, and, if needed, connect people with local resources. In 90% of interactions, the assistance received during the initial contact meets all the person’s immediate needs.
The Wisconsin Lifeline is managed by Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin with support from DHS. Currently, staff there answer a majority of the calls and a portion of the texts and chats from the state. More calls, texts, and chats will be answered in state as the Wisconsin Lifeline workforce expands in the coming months. Any call, texts, and chats that are not answered in state receive a response from a 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline contact center outside of Wisconsin.
Most Wisconsin contacts to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline are handled by the Wisconsin Lifeline. DHS currently supports the operations of the Wisconsin Lifeline through a combination of funding from federal grants.