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Report: Nevada misses 32 percent of mental-health crisis calls

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Alex Gonzalez

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(Nevada News Service) Nevada is among a handful of states to add a surcharge to all phone bills intended to help support the state's 988 mental health emergency hotline.

A new report by the mental health advocacy group Inseparable found if the surcharge were to increase from 35 cents to 98 cents, it would generate approximately $3 million annually for the Silver State.

Angela Kimball, chief advocacy officer for Inseparable, said the report is a tool to help policymakers and state leaders develop an equitable and sustainable crisis response system. They found Nevada's in-state answer rate sits at 68 percent, when it should be above 90 percent.

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"We're still a long way from having the kind of system that everybody expects in every ZIP code, in every part of America," Kimball acknowledged.

Kimball pointed out with the implementation of 988, it also brought about changes in the way local jurisdictions respond to mental health crises. The report highlighted Nevada has convened a workgroup to build response processes for collaboration between 988 and 911. While it is a step in the right direction, the report showed Nevada could improve call center capacity, crisis response as well as system financing.

Nevada has the 39th highest suicide rate in the country and also ranks 50th in the nation for overall mental health, according to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health.

Kimball stressed the figures need to see improvement. She added not having an effective response system in place can make a difference between life and death for some.

"People going without help, being turned on to the streets, being in jail, being in emergency departments, being hospitalized -- voluntarily or involuntarily -- or, tragically, having their life end," Kimball noted.

Kimball added the report lays out policy examples for each of their policy recommendations which come from red and blue states moving the needle in the right direction. She hopes they can serve as inspiration for other states. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental-health emergency, do not hesitate to call or text 988.