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911 for Mental Health is Here

Officials are downplaying its launch

State health officials, unsure they have the money or staff to respond to an expected flood of calls to 988 — the new mental health hotline number — are tempering expectations just days ahead of its launch.

It's a setback for the Biden administration, which had hoped the opening of the three-digit crisis line, billed as 911 for mental health care, would come with much fanfare. Instead senior officials find themselves downplaying Saturday’s launch as more of a "transition."

“911, when it was implemented, was an evolution,” said Christina Mullins, commissioner for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Behavioral Health. “We’re going to be in that similar evolution.”

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