Behavioral Health Hotline Act

Summary: The Behavior Health Hotline Act creates and funds a hotline using the phone number 988 to offer suicide prevention and assistance in any other behavioral health crisis.

Based on MD SB 241 (2022)

For background, see How a 988 Crisis Center Helps People With Mental and Behavioral Health Emergencies


This Act shall be called the “Behavioral Health Hotline Act.”


(A) FINDINGS—The legislature/council finds that:

1) In mid-2022, the federal government set up the phone number 988 as a national suicide prevention hotline, but it is up to states to promote and staff the number.

2) Typically, a state funds a nonprofit to staff the hotline, which may also offer counseling and mobile crisis assistance teams.

3) Some states are broadening the scope of the 988 hotline to any behavioral health problem, not just suicide.

4) According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, 17 states (CO, CT, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MN, NV, NJ, NY, OR, VA, WA, WV) have enacted legislation to implement the 988 system.

(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to protect the health and wellbeing of residents.


After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:


1) The Department [of Health] shall establish and administer a fund to provide reimbursement for costs incurred by nonprofit organizations associated with:

a) Designating and maintaining 988 as the universal telephone number to provide crisis intervention services and crisis care coordination to individuals accessing suicide prevention and behavioral health services from any jurisdiction within the State, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, under the federal National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020; and

b) Developing and implementing a statewide initiative for the coordination and delivery of the continuum of behavioral health crisis response services in the state, including crisis call centers, mobile crisis team services, crisis stabilization centers, and other acute behavioral health care services.

2) The Department [of Health] shall, in collaboration with the federal substance abuse and mental health services administration, the national suicide prevention lifeline, the national veterans crisis line, and other appropriate entities, work to promote the public messaging of 988 services in a consistent manner.

3) On or before [December 1] each year, the Department shall submit a report to the Governor, the Senate [Health and Appropriations Committees], and the House [Health and Appropriations Committees] that includes for the immediately preceding fiscal year a detailed description of:

a) The amount of funds transferred and distributed from the fund in accordance with this section;

b) The additional services provided by the funding in each local jurisdiction;

c) The amount of any unspent funds in the fund; and

d) The reasons any funds were not spent.


For fiscal year 2024, the Governor shall include in the annual budget bill an appropriation of [$10,000,000] for the fund described in this Section.


This law shall become effective on XXXX 1, 202X.