Native & Strong Lifeline – the first state-funded helpline dedicated to serving Native communities specifically – launched on November 10th as part of the 988 call center operated by Volunteers of America Western Washington (VOAWW). The service offers Native communities in Washington state 24/7 emotional support over the helpline, and connects callers to resources as needed.
The program created a new culturally specific training for Tribal Crisis Counselors, who answer the line and support those seeking help.
“It’s all about connection. Our counselors are amazing – they have that knowledge and that life experience to connect with a caller – and we answer the line by introducing ourselves with our tribal affiliation so that people know where we’re coming from.”
Those seeking help can access the Native & Strong Lifeline by calling 988 and choosing option 4 – which is available only to those calling from a Washington area code.
Washington’s state legislature dedicated funding for culturally specific prevention efforts due to high suicide and substance use rates within American Indian and Alaska Native populations. In partnership with tribal leaders, VOAWW created two programs – the Native & Strong Lifeline and the Washington Indian Behavioral Health Hub. These programs work in tandem to respond to the needs of the community immediately and connect callers to ongoing resources.