In just a few months, “988” goes live as the new hotline to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The scheduled launch comes at a time when suicide rates have increased by 33% in the last two decades, particularly among young Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this week’s “In Focus SoCal,” host Tanya McRae sits down with Rep. Tony Cárdenas, who represents parts of the San Fernando Valley, to discuss his “988 Implementation Act." If passed, it would provide support for counties and states to build a crisis response infrastructure for a smooth transition in July.

“We have a lot of work to do to make sure that those calls get handled in a way that someone will be able to answer, someone will be able to come, and then that person’s going to be able to get help,” Cárdenas said.

McRae also visits the Antelope Valley, where a new family resource center opened up to provide families and children with various services, including mental health resources.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents District 5, worked with the Department of Health to bring funding to the Lancaster center as well as two others.

“It’s a one-stop shop for children and families receiving county foster services, and mental physical health services. So I think it’s a win-win,” Barger said.

The pandemic has magnified issues that have long been a source of stress for frontline health care workers, including long hours and increase patient volumes.

During the pandemic, about half of the health care workers in the U.S. reported that their mental health has worsened.

“In Focus SoCal” visits MLK Jr. Community Hospital, which hired a wellbeing specialist and counselor last year to support its staff.

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