AB 988 or The Miles Hall Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Act, will develop and designate a new three-digit phone number, 9-8-8, as the universal number to request an appropriate response to urgent mental health crises. With 9-8-8, callers will be connected to around-the-clock intervention, including mobile crisis teams staffed by qualified mental health professionals and trained peers instead of a traditional law enforcement response.
In 2019, Miles Hall was experiencing a mental health crisis. Having exhausted all other avenues, his family dialed 911 for help from Walnut Creek police. Tragically, within a minute of being on site, police shot and killed Miles. Miles was a vibrant, young resident with a history of mental health conditions. The Hall Family had established a relationship with the police department in the past, taking all the precautions to ensure that, should they ever be in a crisis, law enforcement could help keep Miles safe.
Despite having done everything right, the Hall family was left wondering what they did wrong. After meeting Taun Hall, Miles’ mother, and hearing Miles’ story, I realized that Miles, and his family, were let down by our system long before that fateful day. I decided to work alongside the Justice for Miles Hall Foundation to author this legislation.
Twenty-five percent of individuals killed in police involved shootings since 2015 had a known mental illness, and may have resorted to law enforcement because there was no other resource. Suicide rates have been increasing across the nation, rising thirty-five percent in the last two decades. This state needs a resource to fight the current mental health crisis we are facing. AB 988 will be that resource as it decriminalizes the mental health crisis response.
Last year, the federal government passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which established this new 988 phone line for mental health emergencies. AB 988 bill implements this system here in California, as well as designates hotline centers to provide 24/7 help and intervention. These crisis centers would deploy mobile crisis teams and stabilization services, as well as follow up with the callers to ensure long-term care.
I am proud to author the legislation that allows mental health emergencies to be de-escalated without a police response. Mental illness is a health condition, not a crime, and health practitioners should respond to crisis calls, not law enforcement.
To learn more about AB 988 try these helpful links:
- AB 988 Town Hall recording: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=252994856605963
- Legislative information: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB988
- Justice for Miles Hall Foundation: https://www.justiceformileshall.org/
To show support for AB 988 please complete this petition:
988 in the news:
- Professionals, not police, should respond to mental health crises https://calmatters.org/commentary/my-turn/2021/03/professionals-not-police-should-respond-to-mental-health-crises/
- How will California's 988 mental health line actually work? https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/10/18/qs-new-988-mental-health-line-actually-work-2/
- Call 988: California finds $20 million to help pay for new crisis hotline https://www.sfchronicle.com/california/article/Call-988-How-will-California-pay-for-the-new-16438003.php