TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — On Thursday, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed a bill to create a suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline, along with behavioral health intervention teams for the state.

With Senate Bill 19 (SB 19), Kansans will be able to call 9-8-8 to receive support during a mental health emergency 24/7.

“The creation of the 9-8-8 suicide prevention hotline will provide Kansans immediate access to qualified mental health care providers during moments of crisis,” Kelly said. “There’s no doubt, having mobile crisis teams just a phone call away will save lives.”

The 9-8-8 hotline will be within the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) Centers network, and according to the summary of SB 19, “the bill requires service providers, after July 16, 2022, to direct all calls initiated by a user dialing 988 to Hotline centers.” Prior to this date, anyone who dials 9-8-8 will be transferred to the current toll-free access number for the NSPL.

“Better access to crisis support services for Kansans with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) will help to address some of the system problems we have endured in our state for a long time,” Nick Wood, associate director of InterHab, said. “Behavioral health crises among IDD populations only represent a small fraction of overall psychiatric and substance use emergencies, but they’re often high impact and can seriously disrupt a person’s life. When a crisis situation occurs, bringing in a professional who understands IDD conditions such as autism and how it’s manifesting can help avoid a fatal or traumatizing interaction.”

The mobile crisis teams were created by behavioral health professionals and others who provide professional, community-based crisis intervention services. These services include de-escalation and stabilization for Kansans experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

“The recent passage of SB 19 — the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline Infrastructure bill — is monumental for the state of Kansas and the mental health community, allowing for our crisis call centers to be able to better provide for Kansans across the state,” Ryan Reza, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Kansas, said. “The 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline will change how organizations like NAMI Kansas operate in Kansas, creating new pathways for mental health stakeholders to help Kansans in need.”