10 January 2024- Congressmen David Trone (D-MD), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced the Continuity in Necessary Evaluative Crisis Treatment (CONNECT) Act to connect individuals experiencing a behavioral or mental health crisis with follow-up services. Inspired by successful efforts in Maryland to engage in follow-up services, the bill authorizes $30 million to create a new grant program through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support these activities.
The reintroduction comes two years after the nationwide launch of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a three-digit number to contact while experiencing mental health and substance use crises. Since its July 2022 launch, 988 has received and routed over 7.5 million calls, texts, and chats. Follow-up services – including check-ins, outreach to ensure service engagement, and collaboration with support systems – are proven to save lives. Research has shown a positive impact of follow-up care provided by call centers for suicidal individuals; nearly 80% of follow-up clients report that intervention prevented them from attempting suicide and over 90% said it kept them safe.
“This legislation will continue to ensure that every call for help is not only heard but also met with effective follow-up care. It’s a testament to what we can achieve when we make health care accessible and affordable to everyone in every corner of the country,” said Rep. Trone, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “More than one in five adults in the United States suffers from mental health issues, and this effort serves as a vital lifeline for those struggling. We must continue prioritizing mental health to ensure these resources are delivered and lives are saved.”
“Since July 2022, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has fielded millions of calls and texts and has significantly improved nationally the mental health continuum of care,” said Rep. Raskin. “The CONNECT Act will help us build on the success of 988 by providing our nation’s crisis call centers the resources they need to offer more follow-up services to at-risk callers.”
“The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has fielded millions of calls since its establishment in 2022, and it is important that we ensure that follow-up care is equally available for those in need,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “We must continue to prioritize accessibility of mental health resources, and I am proud to join Reps. Trone and Raskin on this bipartisan legislation that will save lives.”
For bill text, click here.