Wisconsin 988 Crisis Center adapting staff to keep up with rising calls

Poster at a 988 suicide and crisis lifeline call center
Poster at a 988 suicide and crisis lifeline call center
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:16 PM CST
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Wis. (WBAY) - About 15 months ago, the 988 Crisis Hotline was launched to help people experiencing a mental health crisis. Wisconsin is among the top in the country in terms of call volume.

The free, 24/7 suicide crisis hotline launched in July of 2022. Shelly Missall from Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin says it receives roughly 5,000 calls per month, which is 1,000 calls more than what they answered prior to the 988 hotline rolling out.

In our area, Missall says the call center receives between 600-900 calls per month, of those who choose to report being in Northeast Wisconsin, which she says is a significant increase in our area compared to before the hotline was set up.

Missall also says the top two reasons people reach out for help are stress management and anxiety. She also says the volume of people reaching out keeps growing and they’re adapting to keep up with the demand.

“Mostly we’ve been seeing that growth in phone calls but there are 3 modalities, so you can call, text, and chat that 988 number,” said Missal. “So those other modalities are becoming better known and more popular as well so we’re adding staff to be able to respond to the text and chat folks reaching out too. "

The center has increased the size of the call center and added remote counselors. They said they do not anticipate the volume of calls to slow down.