Health & Fitness | July 16, 2022 12:18 pm

Nationwide Mental Health Hotline Launches This Weekend

People in crisis can now dial 988

Phone
988 is a new nationwide number for those in crisis to dial.
Nicolas Thomas/Unsplash

Beginning today, people experiencing mental health crises will have a new option to address the issue at hand. On Saturday, a new three-digit number, 988, went live. The principle is similar to 911 — an easy-to-remember number that can be dialed or texted in an emergency.

As The Verge reports, 988 will connect people to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. That encompasses 200 local call centers, as well as a national call center. There are a number of reasons why lawmakers and mental health advocates have pushed for this in recent years, including the importance of directing someone experiencing a mental health crisis to trained professionals in the correct field.

Still, not all states have comparable systems established. A recent Politico article noted that some states have full-time call centers staffed by professionals, while others have relied in part on volunteer labor. Funding has been a source of some uncertainty for some states, as the total amount needed for this program remains unknown.

Among the goals for the new program, according to a New York Times article, is for 95% of all calls to be answered within 20 seconds. Another goal, according to the Times report, is eventually being able to connect callers in need to “mobile crisis teams” and “short-term mental health triage centers.”

It’s an ambitious program, as well as a critically important one. If this expansion can help save more lives, it’ll be that much more of an accomplishment.