Be Careful Calling 988
PLUS: becoming distracti-pressed and the newest iteration of psychiatry's miracle cure hype-cycle
A new episode of Disorderland is out!
We focused on psych survivor stories for this one, collecting some experiences from our listeners and then interviewing survivor and advocate Maggie Leppert aka @thebooksmartbimbo — it was such a good chat and I’m really excited to put it out into the ether!!
Ok, here’s the news I read and mused upon this week:
A 911 For Mental Health?
The 988 hotline launches in the US this week as part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and a lot of states are struggling to get long-term funding for it. So many are struggling to answer the calls they already receive on their suicide hotlines that they’re not even advertising the launch!
1 in 3 calls to current crisis hotlines get routed out-of-state, which is a concern, because how does someone in Maine direct a person in Missouri to services? Another concern is the fact that the NSPL engages in some very scary tracking practices, tracing some callers’ locations to within three meters and sometimes calling the cops without consent (referred to as “Active Rescue”).
Mad In America covered an FCC meeting about this issue in May, where a panel of critics argued the dangerous implications of this practice for Black callers, undocumented callers, and trans callers. They quote the co-director of the Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative, Keris Myrick, who said:
“Many times—I have had this happen in my own life—we’re calling for help, and it ends up in harm, it ends up in handcuffs. And, for worse, for many people, it also ends up in death; not at their own hands, but at the hands of the response team.”
Reporting on this roll-out in mainstream news has mostly overlooked the dangers of Active Rescue practices, though. The Washington Post mentions hotline reporting to law enforcement, but frames it as a benevolent act. NPR even claimed that 988 would be a “safer” alternative to calling 911! Shockingly bad journalism, considering that FCC meeting is free to watch on YouTube.