AB 988 - THE MILES HALL LIFELINE ACT
AB 988 – The Miles Hall Lifeline Act: 988 Suicide and Mental Health Crisis Hotline
Introduced by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, District 16
AB 988 creates a new three-digit phone line, 988, for suicide prevention and immediate, localized emergency response for individuals in mental health crisis by trained mental health professionals.
California is facing a mental health crisis. One in 6 Californians now live with a mental illness and suicides have been steadily climbing, increasing by 35% nationally over the last two decades. This tragic trend has only been exacerbated by COVID-19.
For decades, California has failed to provide necessary mental health services amidst this growing mental health crisis. As a result, the police and the criminal justice system as whole often serve the state’s default mental health provider. Currently, 10% of law enforcement agencies’ budgets – and 20% of staff time – are spent responding to individuals with mental illness.
As a direct consequence of our overreliance on law enforcement responses to a public health crisis, ~25% of all individuals killed in police-involved shootings since 2015 had a known mental illness, with black men dying disproportionately.
In 2019, Miles Hall, a 23-year-old African American man living in Walnut Creek, was in the midst of a schizophrenic mental health crisis when his family called the only source of help available – 911. Despite being familiar with Miles’ condition, the officers resorted to lethal force within a minute of their arrival.
Law enforcement officers are not mental health experts and should not be expected to serve this role. A better system for Miles and all Californians is possible – one that leads with treatment, not law enforcement.
In October of 2020, the federal government passed, and the President signed new legislation, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, establishing a new phone line (9-8-8) for suicide prevention and immediate mental health crisis response nationwide. Before July 2022, when 988 goes live, states must create a framework to receive and respond to calls.
What this bill does
This bill implements the national 988 system in California so that all people experiencing a mental health crisis are able to receive life-saving care.
This bill will designate crisis hotline centers to provide intervention 24/7 through call, chat, and text. These call centers will be able to deploy crisis services – such as mobile crisis teams and crisis stabilization services. To ensure long-term success, centers will also follow up with callers to ensure they receive ongoing care.
The crisis hotline centers will also work with the National Suicide Hotline to provide over the phone immediate support for individuals calling in with suicidal thoughts.
Additionally, this bill will establish a monthly fee on mobile phone and landline bills – similar to a fee charged for 911 – to fund the 988 system.
Supporters (As of 3/31/21)
County of Contra Costa (Sponsor)
County of Los Angeles (Sponsor)
Kennedy Forum (Sponsor)
The Miles Hall Foundation (Sponsor)
NAMI Contra Costa (Sponsor)
Steinberg Institute (Sponsor)
Autism Deserves Equal Coverage
CA Assoc. of Local Behavioral Health Boards &
City of Concord
City of San Pablo City Council
City of Walnut Creek
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance California
Jewish Family and Child Services
Mental Health America of California
NAMI Greater Los Angeles County
The Trevor Project
Truth Love Justice
Together We Will Contra Costa
Well Being Trust
Women’s March Contra Costa
Black Lives Matter Committee of the African American and Friends of Rossmoor
Moms Demand Action
Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center
Together We Stand
(p): (916) 319-2016
Help Pass The Miles Hall Lifeline Act AB 988
Submit a Letter of Support by Thursday, 4/15/21 at Noon
Your Organization may submit a letter of support through the California Legislature position letter portal. A sample letter of support for organizations is here. If questions on submitting the letter through the portal, refer to the FAQs.
The Advocacy Quick Reference Guide for submitting letters is here.
The text of the bill is linked here.
Contact your State Representatives
Contact your Representatives to let them know why you support AB 988. State your name and address and identify yourself as the legislator’s constituent. Briefly state you are calling in support of AB 988. Have your thoughts organized in advance to help you to keep the call brief and to the point. It is also very helpful to share how the issue affects you personally.
Bill History - Active Bill in Committee Process
Two-Thirds Vote Required
04/20/21 Health Committee Hearing 1:30 pm PST
03/04/21 Referred to Coms. on HEALTH and C. & C.
02/19/21 From printer. May be heard in committee March 21.
02/18/21 Read first time. To print.