What's New at Laborers 264
Earlier this summer, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched a new three-digit Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, 988. This new three-digit number is replacing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255, which remains available. The goal behind creating the new three-digit code is to make accessing mental health services easier to remember during a behavioral health emergency, similar to how 911 has become synonymous with contacting the police for other emergencies.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health related distress. That includes thoughts of suicide, substance use crisis or any other kind of mental health or emotional distress. The Lifeline is a national network of more than 200 crisis centers staffed with trained crisis counselors that helps thousands of people overcome crisis situations every day. People can also use 988 if they are worried about someone else who may need crisis support.
The Lifeline provides live crisis center phone services in English and Spanish and uses LanguageLine Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages for people who call 988.
What can people expect when they reach out to 988?
- After a greeting message, callers will be routed to the local Lifeline network crisis center based on their area code.
- Veterans can press “1” after dialing 988 to connect directly to the Veterans Crisis Lifeline, which serves our nation’s veterans, service members (including National Guard and Reserve members) and those who support them.
- If the local Lifeline crisis center is unable to take the call, the call is automatically routed to a national backup crisis center.
Talk Suicide Canada, formerly the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, is available 24 hours a day via phone at 1-833-456-4566 and via text at 45645 from 4 p.m. through midnight Eastern time.
- When someone texts 988, a trained crisis counselor at a group of Lifeline crisis centers will respond.
- This service will expand in the coming years as more local and state resources become available.
- Currently, texting is available in English only.
- Available through the Lifeline’s website at org/chat.
- People seeking chat services are provided a pre-chat survey before connecting with a counselor, who identifies the main area of concern.
- If there is a wait to chat with a crisis counselor, a wait-time message will appear. If demand is high, people can access the Lifeline’s online resources while they wait.
- Currently, chat is available in English only.
Whether it’s via the phone, text or chat, once connected, a trained crisis counselor listens, works to understand the problem, then provides support and shares resources that may be helpful.
To help LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, signatory contractors and members find suicide prevention resources quickly, the LHSFNA recently created our own Suicide Prevention Resources page. This page includes Fund articles, publications, videos and co-branded resources from the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The LHSFNA is committed to helping LIUNA members and their family members get connected with the resources and assistance they need and deserve.
[Jamie Becker is the Fund’s Director of Health Promotion]
From 2019 to 2020, U.S. life expectancy decreased by 1.5 years, the largest one-year drop since World War II. While much of this decline was tied to the pandemic, CDC reports show that declines in life expectancy were not evenly distributed across the population. For example, life expectancy for Hispanic males in the U.S. dropped by 3.7 years and life expectancy for Black people in the U.S. dropped by 2.9 years.
Prior to the pandemic, studies showed that most of the differences in life expectancy across population groups were tied to health behaviors such as smoking and exercise or health conditions such as obesity. Individual behaviors, such as hesitancy to get vaccinated, continued to play a role in life expectancy declines during the pandemic. However, a much larger influence than these individual decisions are what public health experts refer to as “social determinants of health” – the conditions where we live, learn, work, play, grow and age. Factors such as access to health care, education, healthy food, clean water, jobs, transportation and safe housing are the driving forces behind many of the individual health behaviors that affect all of us on a daily basis.
“The social determinants of health are the root cause of the major diseases that kill us,” said Dr. George A. Mensah of the National Institutes of Health. In the U.S., health disparities are largely the result of historical and modern-day policies and beliefs that create greater obstacles for certain groups based on their race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, disability and sexual orientation or gender identity.
Historically, one of the strongest social determinants of health has been where a person lives, with poorer communities having much lower life expectancies than wealthier communities. One example of a social determinant of health during the pandemic was that Black and Hispanic Americans faced greater risk of infection and death from COVID-19 because those groups make up a large percentage of frontline workers.
In the U.S. and Canada, many health conditions exist at much greater rates among racial and ethnic minority groups and among people who are biracial or multiracial. Recognizing, understanding and ending these health disparities is the focus of the LHSFNA’s newest publication Racial and Ethnic Minority Health: Understanding the Causes Behind Health Gaps and Their Impact. This new pamphlet examines current health disparities in the U.S. related to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity and mental health conditions. Each section explains the existing disparity and how that condition leads to poor health outcomes. Most importantly, it includes steps that both LIUNA signatory employers and LIUNA members can take to reduce risk for these conditions.
April is National Minority Health Month, a time to raise awareness about health disparities affecting racial and ethnic minority groups and encourage action through health education, early detection and the control of health conditions that already exist. LIUNA signatory contractors and other affiliates can order this new publication on racial and ethnic minority health here, browse other publications related to chronic disease or sign up here to order publications if you haven’t already.
By acknowledging the existence of health disparities, including their true root causes, we can take steps to close these gaps and improve health equity for everyone. Health equity is when every person has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible. The LHSFNA will continue to advocate for and support efforts to achieve health equity in every community where LIUNA members live and work.