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The Trevor Project Celebrates New Appropriations for 988 Lifeline’s Specialized Crisis Services for LGBTQ Youth

BY: Trevor News
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The Trevor Project is currently subcontracted as the primary service provider of specialized crisis services for LGBTQ youth via 988, the new three-digit suicide and crisis lifeline that went live on July 16, 2022.

December 23, 2022The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people, applauded the inclusion of nearly $30 million in the FY23 omnibus appropriations bill for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to enhance training and provide access to specialized services through the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for marginalized youth. This federal spending package, which will soon be signed into law by President Biden, builds upon the $7.2 million Congress allocated to pilot specialized access for LGBTQ youth in FY22.

LGBTQ youth who contact the 988 Lifeline via phone, text, or chat have the option of being connected with a specially trained, LGBTQ-competent counselor by phone 24/7, and via text and chat during the hours of 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET daily. These life-saving specialized services for LGBTQ youth were made possible by years of bipartisan advocacy, historic legislation, and cross-sector collaboration.

“As the primary provider of crisis services for LGBTQ young people via the 988 Lifeline, The Trevor Project is incredibly thankful to the federal government for the major investment in these life-saving specialized services. It’s vital that all young people have access to culturally competent care in moments of crisis,” said Preston Mitchum (he/him), Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs. “Increasing access to LGBTQ-inclusive crisis care services is critical for addressing the public health crisis of youth suicide, as we know LGBTQ youth continue to face unique challenges, victimization, and barriers to care across all 50 states. We must also continue to raise awareness of the 988 Lifeline among the most marginalized communities and build upon its infrastructure to expand access to non-police crisis intervention responses and long-term mental health, behavioral health, and addiction care.”

“Vibrant Emotional Health, as the administrator of the 988 Lifeline, is incredibly pleased with the passing of the omnibus appropriations package. Funding included in the package will support our work to reach and serve historically and persistently marginalized populations at risk of suicide, including LGBTQ+ youth,” said Kimberly Williams, President and CEO of Vibrant. “Part of this funding will be used to build on the 988 Lifeline LGBTQ+ pilot, for which The Trevor Project has served as the primary contracted provider. Through the support of SAMHSA and the collaboration of The Trevor Project, the pilot allows young LGTBQ+ people to have greater access to life-saving, specialized, and supportive care and we are so grateful to be able to continue this work.”

The Trevor Project is grateful to the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and President Biden for including important provisions in the final appropriations package. This would not have been possible without the bipartisan leadership of policymakers such as Senator Susan Collins, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Representative Mark Pocan, and Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman. 

“With LGBTQ youth at an increased risk of experiencing mental health crises and suicide, the 988 Lifeline is a resource that is working to provide support for young people. Now, The Trevor Project will add value to our efforts because they have the experience and a proven track record of providing specialized services to LGBTQ young people,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin. “We need to do everything we can to help those in mental health crises and prevent suicide, and that means improving the tools and resources they have when they are suffering. This partnership will do that and help us save lives.”

“No one should feel that suicide is the only option, but tragically, too many teenagers who identify as LGBTQ are struggling and do not feel safe or welcome,” said Senator Susan Collins. “When Americans experiencing a mental health crisis need help, the 988 Lifeline has been an invaluable tool that has saved countless lives. Along with Senator Baldwin, I have strongly supported 988’s partnerships to improve targeted services for diverse populations. This collaboration with the Trevor Project strengthens the hotline by helping to ensure that more LGBTQ youth can receive timely, effective, and specialized assistance.”

After years of close collaboration and consultation in support of the 988 Lifeline’s services, Vibrant Emotional Health subcontracted The Trevor Project as the primary service provider to launch this pilot program for LGBTQ youth. In addition to providing specialized phone, chat, and text supports, The Trevor Project will support additional training for 988 Lifeline centers on how to best serve LGBTQ youth in crisis, including raising understanding of LGBTQ identity and the unique stressors and mental health challenges that many LGBTQ young people face each day.

The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth (13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. — and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds. According to The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide and LGBTQ youth of color reported higher rates than their white peers. Further, 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it.

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