988 Initiative makes an impact in its inaugural year


Madison Socol

Mack Lafferty (left), Mia McFaline (middle) Logan Rankin (right) spread awareness for The 988 Initiative, selling t-shirts at the Kings vs. Loveland basketball game.

Madison Socol, Staff Writer

After several rounds of applications and interviews, Mia McFaline, was selected to be the ambassador for The 988 Initiative, a non-profit organization working towards suicide prevention and mental health awarness. 

Ambassadors for the 988 Initiative reach out to those in need of help locally, and spread awareness of the Initiative’s primary goal of destigmatizing mental health by creating conversations. 

“It is such an honor being the ambassador for Kings. I have always been the biggest mental health advocate I can be, and knowing I now have an actual platform and [that] I can make something out of my mental health awareness is just so awesome and I’m so grateful,” McFaline said.

The 988 Initiative established as a new suicide hotline and an organization on July 16, 2020.

We hope that discussion around the 988 number will create a space and opportunity for individuals, friends, and families to talk about mental health as a whole

— Jake Hertzman

Hertzman, the founder of The 988 initiative, had a passion for mental health awareness strong enough to want to create his own suicide hotline to help those in need. As a freshman in high school Hertzman played the main character in the movie Chance which is based on the true story of Chance Smith’s life. Hertzman connected with the Smith’s love of baseball, but the movie also depicts Smith’s teenage relationship issues and eventual suicide. 

“This was my first real exposure to the world of mental health awarness and suicide prevention. Then the winter of my junior year, my cousin took his own life at 14. These two events together inspired me to take the action and create The 988 Initiative,” Hertzman said.

Abby Arellano,  an ambassador for The 988 Initiative at Loveland High School, has been reaching out to friends at other schools to help gather resources for activities and signage for the 988 Initiative. 

For Arellano, the organization had a greater impact on her than any other mental health hotline. 

“It’s not like the other lifelines where they just show up to your front door,” Arellano said.

988, is a number you call in case of a mental health issue. Anyone can call this number to reach out to a therapist in minutes over the phone.

“When you call you will either be switched to a line with a therapist as soon as possible, or you will have someone sent to your house depending on [the severity of the] situation,” Arellano said.

Taylor Mills, a senior, has watched McFaline learn and grow into the person she became to fit the role of an ambassador.

“Mia has been through what The 988 Initiative was created for. She knows the warning signs. She is an easy person to walk up to and talk to. She truly does care about her own and other people’s mental health and is willing to stop what she’s doing to help others,” Mills said.