A 988 operator, faced with a flood of calls, turns to AI to boost counselor skills

Over 1,000 times a day, distressed people call crisis support lines operated by Protocall Services. Its counselors are carefully trained for the sensitive and taxing conversations, but even with supervision on the job, major errors, like failing to screen for suicide, can go undetected.

So Portland, Ore.-based Protocall is working with a company called Lyssn to investigate if technology can help keep call quality high. Lyssn’s platform uses AI to analyze and review recordings of behavioral health encounters, and the two companies were recently awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to adapt the tech for use in crisis calls. If shown to be effective, it could pave the way for broader adoption among crisis lines at risk of buckling under the weight of demand for their services amid climbing suicide rates…

Virna Little, a psychologist who previously ran a crisis center line and has worked nationally on suicide prevention, said that technology like Lyssn is “a potential gamechanger.” It can help fill a data void both by identifying individual staff that are underperforming, and by highlighting what works for call centers that have strong performance.

“I think it would hold people to some consistent quality standards,” said Little.


Behavioral Health


Concert Health



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