Talking 988 and mental health during the holidays: Kyle Thompson –

Guest columnist Kyle Thompson is a policy assistant at the Center for Community Solutions.

As 2022 draws to a close, we find ourselves caught in the routine of annual shopping sprees and anticipated gatherings with loved ones.

On its surface, the holiday season presents itself as a time of cheer and celebration. However, some people experience strong dejection during this time of year.

As the days get darker and the nights get colder, people become isolated from the outside world and each other. In fact, 55 percent of Americans reported struggling with holiday loneliness earlier this year.

This holiday season is an opportunity for Ohioans to learn about services like the 988 Lifeline and engage in conversations with family and friends about mental health.

988 and beyond

988 is a shorter, three-digit Lifeline that provides a wide range of services tailored to mental health, substance use and suicidal crisis. The former suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255) will reroute calls to the 988 Lifeline.

988 also has culturally informed resources for marginalized groups, including LGBTQ individuals and neurodivergent , Black or indigenous populations. These resources are beneficial; however, the overall effectiveness of 988 is still limited due to its lack of funding.

Ohio is one of 27 states that lacks legislation to fund and implement 988. This is detrimental to many Ohioans who struggle with mental health and suicidal ideation.

Currently, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for Ohioans ages 10-34 — and this will continue unless decisionmakers work to increase 988′s funding and service capacity.

The 2023-2024 state budget should prioritize funding 988 to increase capacity for vulnerable populations. In the meantime, we should be discussing mental health with our family and friends.

How to talk about mental health



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