As of July 16, 2022, the emergency number for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis is 988. It will connect the caller to professionals on standby who can help avert a crisis and get someone on the path to getting help.
988 is the new national mental health crisis and suicide prevention lifeline number.
Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to be operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The old lifeline number (1-800-273-8255) as well as the website and chat option, will continue to be available in addition to the new 988 option.
Providing 24/7, free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress works. Studies show that hotlines are effective in helping people who are experiencing thoughts of suicide or having a mental health crisis, but they have to know what number to call.
988 is an easy-to-remember number to connect you with suicide prevention and mental health crisis resources. This number will remove the barrier of people struggling to find the 10-digit number, making the hotline more accessible to people in times of crisis.
This is a good step in the right direction. However, there are concerns about the system’s ability to handle all the incoming calls, which are expected to increase with the ease of the new number. Congress must back this up with funding for our seriously underfunded and under-resourced mental health system.
What to expect when you call the lifeline:
- A message will tell you that you’ve reached the lifeline.
- Hold music may play while you are waiting to be connected.
- A trained crisis worker in your region will answer.
- The crisis worker will talk to you about what’s going on, provide support, and connect you with any needed resources, such as mental healthcare in your area.
What can you do right now to help? Share this post with anyone and everyone. The goal is for this number to become as well known as 911. Spread the word.
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