NIHCM Newsletter / July 2022

The Launch of 988 & More

Released: July 7, 2022

Launch of 988

The launch of the three-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number on July 16, 2022, will direct callers to crisis centers. 988 callers who are suicidal or experiencing a mental health crisis will be connected to counselors that are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. However, there is concern the Lifeline will not be able to handle the increase in call volume.

  • Youth Suicide: The Lifeline has already struggled to handle the increase in youth suicide rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. The growing mental health crisis disproportionately impacts LGBTQ youth and youth of color.
  • Suicide and Mental Health: A recent study shows that most male suicides in the U.S. are not linked to mental health issues. These suicides are associated with acute stressors and are more likely to involve a firearm.
  • Racial Disparities: A new Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report shows racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of major depression.

Resources & Initiatives:

Impact of Overturning Roe on Health Care

The U.S.’ maternal mortality rate exceeds that of any other high-income country. The court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade, allows states to set their own regulations on whether or not abortion is legal, and with what exceptions, if any. Numerous medical organizations and journals warn that the ruling will have implications beyond abortion, potentially increasing maternal mortality.

  • Implications on the Health Care System: The verdict creates significant confusion among medical groups and hospitals across the nation, especially those specializing in in vitro fertilization. Providers will now have to follow each state’s directive on the definition of an abortion. The Supreme Court’s decision could place a heavier burden on already strained obstetric units around the country, such as rural maternity units.
  • Dangerous Pregnancies: As restrictions continue to grow, many are concerned about whether people will be able to receive care for high-risk pregnancies. The new ruling also complicates what providers are able to do in cases of miscarriages, stillbirths, or pregnancies where the fetus is unlikely to survive, in which carrying to term will not only have a physical and mental health toll on the mother but some doctors argue is life-threatening.
  • Restricted Medical Training & Treatment: Many of the procedures and medications used in treating miscarriages are also used in abortion care. New restrictions could curtail where doctors are able to receive training for this care, which has been a requirement for obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) residency programs. A study in Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates that the number of OB/GYN residents with access to some level of abortion training will decline from the 92% reported in 2020 to at most 56%.


Initiatives to Improve Maternal Health:

The Pandemic & Children’s Health

The pandemic continues to challenge children’s health. More than 200,000 U.S. children have lost one or both parents to COVID, with youth of color disproportionately impacted. Additionally, child food insecurity remains a concern as Congress passes legislation to extend free meals and other food assistance for children.

  • ACEs: Stressors in childhood, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs, can increase risk of disease later in life. This science informs the many challenges orphans of COVID could face in the future and the disproportionate impact on marginalized communities.
  • COVID Vaccines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old. However, disparities in health care may influence whether a child receives the shot. Rural pediatricians are less likely to recommend the COVID vaccines than their urban counterparts.
  • Child Hunger: A new report from the Food Research Action Center showed that 95% of the country’s largest school districts reported that the waivers helped reduce child hunger in their school district.

Resources & Initiatives:

  • Learn more about addressing childhood trauma and the importance of family support.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan partnered with The Children's Trust Fund to help raise awareness about the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
  • PBS NewsHour, a NIHCM grantee, highlighted how workforce shortages exacerbate the mental health crisis among American teens.
  • Physicians (who are also moms of young kids) answer your questions about the COVID vaccine for children in this resource from Blue Cross NC
  • See NIHCM’s infographic on the pandemic’s impact on children, with a focus on the mental health crisis.

In Other Public Health News…

See More on: