Altarum Leads National Training and Technical Assistance Center for 988 and Crisis Services

August 02, 2023

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has selected Altarum to provide training and technical assistance support to states, territories, tribal organizations, and community partners across the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and crisis continuum of care. The goal of the National Crisis Response Systems Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) is to support a crisis care system that is integrated, sustainable, equitable, and aligned around evidence-based and evidenced-informed practices. 

Established in 2005 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline allows people in need of urgent mental health care to call, chat, or text with trained counselors at over 200 local crisis centers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The new, easier to remember, three-digit 988 Lifeline, which celebrated its first anniversary in July 2023, has seen a significant increase in use as public awareness of the lifeline grows. The program routed more than 400,000 contacts in May 2023, a 45% increase in calls, a 52% increase in chats, and a 938% in texts over May 2022.

To support the continued growth of 988 Lifeline and build a more robust crisis care system, the Altarum-led Crisis TTAC is tasked with:

  • assisting in the integration of the 988 Lifeline with 911 and mobile crisis response services;
  • increasing access to mental health and substance use related crisis services for individuals and families in need, particularly priority populations and those who have been traditionally underserved by the health care system;
  • convening experts and leaders in behavioral health crisis systems and services to identify emerging best and promising practices; and
  • developing and disseminating materials for policymakers, agency leadership, the crisis workforce, and individuals and families in need to help improve crisis systems and services nationwide.

Altarum has two decades of experience operating training and technical assistance programs for SAMHSA and expertise in crisis services and suicide prevention.  The Crisis TTAC award adds to a growing portfolio of  national training and technical assistance (TTA) centers lead by the nonprofit for federal agencies such as the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Along with our partners, W2 Consulting Corporation and Change Matrix, LLC, who have extensive experience with crisis services, technical assistance, and health equity, Altarum is proud to once again partner with SAMHSA and lead this important and impactful work.

 “We’re honored to begin this crucial work for SAMHSA due to its deep alignment with our mission to improve the health of individuals disenfranchised by the health care system,” said Jessica McDuff, Altarum behavioral health program director. “Altarum’s innovative TTA will help the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline realize its vision to provide someone to talk to, someone to respond, and a safe place for help, while advancing the behavioral health of the nation.”


Jessica McDuff
Program Director, Behavioral Health