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02/23/2024 07:49 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20230&cosponId=41584
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: October 12, 2023 01:31 PM
From: Representative Maureen E. Madden
To: All House members
Subject: Collaboration for study on 988/911 integration & 988 public awareness and language accessibility campaign
 
By now, the depths of this country’s mental health crisis are no longer a secret. Struggles have impacted every corner of society, regardless of geography, age, race, ethnicity, gender or status.

There are signs of hope, though, including the recent implementation of suicide and crisis lifelines like 988.

However, as programs like 988 are still new, individuals experiencing a mental health crisis are still likelier to call 911 (or have it called for them) and to encounter law enforcement rather than mobile crisis teams who are often better equipped to offer the treatment and intervention required in these emotionally charged moments.

Before 988 was implemented in PA, a constituent of mine, 19-year-old Christian Hall, called 911 while in the throes of a devastating mental health crisis on Dec. 30, 2020, and ultimately died at the hands of Pennsylvania State Troopers after a long, unsuccessful attempt to deescalate the situation.

Our police officers spend too large a portion of their valuable time responding to these types of situations, either transporting individuals to emergency departments or jails. It’s a crisis of its own that cries out for reform.

The truth is that individuals like Christian Hall require a level of comprehensive mental health support that goes beyond the capabilities of our traditional law enforcement agencies.

Our moral duty is to ensure that every Pennsylvanian in mental health distress has access to a robust crisis response system built on principles of non-violence, cultural competence, and linguistic accessibility.

That is why I am proud to introduce two pieces of legislation that will honor the memory of Christian Hall and, more importantly, help ensure that such a tragedy is never repeated.

This legislation is not just about policy; it is about saving lives and protecting the vulnerable in our society. Please consider cosponsoring the two pieces of legislation below. The resolution, which creates a Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study to provide recommendations on the interoperability between and across 911, 988 and behavioral health crisis services, and the bill, which develops a public awareness campaign to provide informational materials related to the 988 crisis hotline in other languages, take critical steps to addressing issues of public safety and improving outcomes for citizens in crisis.



Document #1

Introduced as HR252

Description: Christian Hall Prevention Resolution

This resolution will create and direct a Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study to provide recommendations on interoperability between and across 911, 988 and behavioral health crisis services. It will help develop technical and operational standards for the 988 system, including coordination with Pennsylvania's 911 system and training. The Commission will be inclusive, featuring individuals with technical expertise and mental health experience, individuals from immigrant communities to help bridge any communication gaps, as well as representatives from the General Assembly and the executive administration. As examples, the Commission will examine:  
  • Triage and response to warm handoffs from 911 and 988 call centers. 
  • Training necessary for personnel staffing 911 to assess whether coordinating with 988 is appropriate.
  • Development of a protocol for responders, law enforcement, and fire and ambulance services to request assistance from each other.
 

Document #2

Description: Public Awareness Campaign & Website Bill

This bill will require that the Department of Human Services, in collaboration with stakeholders, develop a public awareness campaign to provide informational materials related to the 988 crisis hotline, including call, text, and chat options, and other crisis services available in the several of the most commonly spoken languages in Pennsylvania. In addition, this legislation will work to develop culturally competent training for personnel involved in mental health crisis response with a focus on providing culturally and linguistically skilled services for LGBTQ+, racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse communities.