Salt Lake City, UT—Today the Hatch Center, the policy arm of the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, hosted a virtual symposium on mental health and suicide prevention with Representative Chris Stewart, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Huntsman Foundation President David Huntsman, and social health advocates Heidi Swapp and David Kozlowski. The webinar—which can be viewed in its entirety here—aimed to raise public awareness for “988,” the new three-digit number for the national suicide hotline. The event also spotlighted innovative technologies and policy ideas designed to improve mental health, including a social health curriculum being piloted in Utah schools. At the conclusion of the webinar, Hatch Foundation Executive Director Matt Sandgren issued the following statement:

“Amid a global pandemic and an economic recession, our country is also grappling with a mental health crisis,” said Sandgren. “This crisis is exacting a spiritual and material toll on American families that is difficult to fathom. At today’s Hatch Center webinar, we did a deep dive on the policies, behaviors, and best practices that can help curb this crisis. This includes a new social health curriculum for secondary education that stands to make a real difference for teenagers struggling with mental illness. Thanks to our impressive panel of mental health advocates, education, nonprofit, and government leaders, we were able to spotlight new solutions taking place on both the state and federal levels to address our nation’s mental health challenges.

Background: In 2017, Senator Orrin Hatch partnered with Representative Chris Stewart in introducing the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act, which called for a study to determine the best three-digit dialing code. Their efforts culminated in the establishment of “988” as the new “911” number for mental health emergencies. The Hatch Center is carrying on the Senator’s legacy of mental health advocacy by bringing together leading policymakers to highlight new legislation that can help strengthen social health in communities across America.