Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Jul 11, 2022

What Therapists Should Know about the Rollout of 988

Curt and Katie discuss the new suicide hotline, 988, that is set to roll out July 16, 2022. We talk about the legislation for 988 as well as what the primary concerns are for the launch. We explore the resources and infrastructure that is promised (but not ready) as well as ideas that might improve the success of this new initiative.

Transcripts for this episode will be available at!

In this podcast episode we talk about what is already going wrong with the 988 roll out.  

We have been paying attention to the 988 roll out and are concerned by the lack of preparation and funding for its implementation. We talk about why we’re freaked out about the upcoming roll out.

What is 988?

  • Legislation (from 2020) makes the national suicide hotline easier to access, using the phone number 988 – set to launch on July 16, 2022
  • Crisis, Suicide, or Lifeline phone number
  • Replaces the previous numbers: 800-273-8255 (phone) or text to 741741
  • Connecting local resources to local callers
  • An entry point into the local crisis response system
  • Opportunities for call, text, or messaging support during times of crisis

What are the primary concerns with the launch of 988?

“Mental health is not a priority according to any of the actions taken in response to [the 988 rollout] … Many states don't have the funding to implement this at all set up.” – Curt Widhalm, LMFT

  • Lack of infrastructure (calls are being sent out of state or not being answered at all)
  • Lack of local resources to handle crisis response
  • Lack of funding to develop these resources (potentially NO funding for staff, text, chat)
  • Huge gaps in the crisis response system that will be exposed by increased access to this system
  • Challenges with training hotline workers, who are likely going to be volunteers
  • Inadequate training for inclusive services and linguistically responsive services.

“We're looking at a good swath of folks who are most likely to be calling these [suicide hotline] numbers and they're going to reach somebody that has no training to work with them.”  - Katie Vernoy, LMFT

Ideas to improve 988 and the United States Mental Healthcare program

  • Funding streams through Medicaid, combining forces with 911
  • Using the implementation to identifying gaps
  • RAND suggestions to coordinate with local organizations for strategic planning and identifying stable funding sources, needs assessments related to personnel
  • Advocacy at the state level to make sure state legislatures are making this work
  • Curt’s idea: have hotlines staffed with prelicensed or provisionally licensed folks (earning double hours toward licensure)
  • Advocacy at the federal level to increase funding across the whole country


Our Generous Sponsor for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide:


Thrizer is a new modern billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible AND clinicians should earn what they are worth. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer, you can potentially save them hundreds every month, with no extra work on your end. Every time you bill a client through Thrizer, an insurance claim is automatically generated and sent directly to the client's insurance. From there, Thrizer provides concierge support to ensure clients get their reimbursement quickly, directly into their bank account. By eliminating reimbursement by check, confusion around benefits, and obscurity with reimbursement status, they allow your clients to focus on what actually matters rather than worrying about their money. It is very quick to get set up and it works great in completement with EHR systems. Their team is super helpful and responsive, and the founder is actually a long-time therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times The best part is you don't need to give up your rate. They charge a standard 3% payment processing fee!

Thrizer lets you become more accessible while remaining in complete control of your practice. A better experience for your clients during therapy means higher retention. Money won't be the reason they quit on therapy. Sign up using if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free! Sign up for Thrizer with code 'moderntherapists' for 1 month of no credit card fees or payment processing fees! That’s right - you will get one month of no payment processing fees, meaning you earn 100% of your cash rate during that time.

Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

SAMHSA 988 webpage

RAND Report: How to Transform the US Mental Health System

RAND Working Paper – Preparedness for 988 Throughout the United States: The New Mental Health Emergency Hotline

Find Your Legislators

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Fixing Mental Healthcare in America

A Living Wage for Prelicensees

Episodes on Suicide


Who we are:

Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making "dad jokes" and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt's youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


Buy Me A Coffee

Podcast Homepage

Therapy Reimagined Homepage






Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano