The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would like faculty and students at accredited social work programs to join the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 988 workforce. The 988 hotline launched on July 16, 2022 and officials from HHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) noted that the Council on Social Work Education has been a valuable partner to exploring ways to staff the new 988 emergency hotline.
Accredited social work programs are encouraged to reach out to HHS and SAMHSA centers to establish volunteer opportunities and field placements for faculty and students.
CSWE met with these officials as the 988 hotline prepared to launch in order to advocate for the role that social work students can play in staffing the hotline appropriately. In fact, officials from HHS and SAMHSA noted during a national stakeholder call that they view social workers, students, and faculty as important to the growth of the 988 hotline and other facilities.
“A few of us may recall a time when you could not dial 911 to reach emergency services. The service was launched in 1968 as a way to connect people to the emergency services they needed. Over the last 54 years, we have come to understand the importance of access to mental health care services and this new hotline can help connect our communities to much-needed care. Still, the 988 hotline must be staffed appropriately to handle these calls – and social work students, faculty members, and practitioners appear to be the ideal care providers,” said CSWE President and CEO Darla Spence Coffey, PhD, MSW.
Field directors and administrators are encouraged to use this SAMHSA website
to find their local 988 call centers, some of which have remote opportunities. This link highlights available jobs at 988 centers and the contact information for those centers.