Crisis support lines are currently undergoing testing of artificial intelligence (AI) to assess the quality of their response. These support lines rely on well-trained counselors who are adept at handling sensitive conversations, particularly those involving potential suicide. However, the process of reviewing randomly selected recordings to ensure quality control is putting additional strain on these already burdened services. This challenge is further exacerbated by the introduction of the new 988 system, which in May alone directed nearly 470,000 calls to crisis support lines.

To address this issue, the National Institute of Mental Health has granted $2 million to Protocall Services and Lyssn. Protocall Services operates crisis support lines, while Lyssn specializes in AI-powered analysis of behavioral health interactions. The two organizations will collaborate to investigate whether AI technology can perform, on a large scale, the tasks currently handled by human reviewers. This comprehensive study is expected to span several years.

Lyssn co-founder Dave Atkins emphasized the significance of the endeavor, stating, “These are people’s lives, right? If we want AI to provide reliable, valid, and high-quality assessments, we need to put in the necessary effort.”