988 is an easy-to-remember number that can connect you to resources for suicide prevention and mental health crises.
“The counselor will listen, offer support, and work together with the caller to develop a plan for safety and recovery,” says William Zimmermann, L.C.S.W., program manager at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care and New Jersey Suicide Prevention Hopeline, a National Lifeline back-up center.
Many changes occurred nationwide due to the pandemic, including the open discussion of mental health. The available resources are improving as more people begin to prioritize mental health.
The time has finally come to recognize that mental health emergencies are just as serious and urgent as physical health emergencies.
What is 9–8–8?
The mental health national hotline 9–8–8 goes live on July 16. It will connect crisis response to over 200 local and state-funded crisis centers across the United States, with calls routed to the nearest center based on area code.
According to KCRG Channel 9 News, when people call 9–8–8, they will be connected with a specially trained person who will walk them through a mental health crisis, potentially reducing the strain on law enforcement and emergency rooms.
The hotline is intended to assist in suicide prevention and other mental health emergencies.
The hotline is free, confidential, and can refer people who require assistance but don’t know where to turn.
Friends and family can also use the 9–8–8 number to assist those experiencing mental health issues.
9–8–8 will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached via phone, text, or chat.
It provides Americans with mental health resources by replacing the 10-digit number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, established in 2005.
The previous Lifeline phone number, 1–800–273–8255 (1–800–273-TALK), remains active even after the launch of the new three-digit phone number and will always be available to people in crisis.
Congress designated the 9–8–8 number in 2020 to be operated by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
What does it mean for you?
The hope is that by removing the barrier of being able to find or remember the 10-digit number, it will become more accessible and likely to attract more callers. If it can handle the influx, 9–8–8 could direct people to services other than emergency rooms or law enforcement agencies.
Why does it matter?
According to government statistics, someone dies by suicide every 11 minutes in the United States, which has increased nearly 30 percent since 2000.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death in people aged 10 to 34 and the fourth leading cause of death in people aged 35 to 44.
Every year, approximately 10 million Americans present to emergency departments with acute mental health needs.
Who is funding 9–8–8?
Most of 9–8–8’s funding comes from the American Rescue Plan, administered by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The American Rescue Plan will provide nearly $105 million in grant funding for its creation and operation.
According to a Rand Corp. report released last week, more than half of public health officials tasked with launching the 9–8–8 line felt unprepared. It lacked the necessary funding for staffing and infrastructure to handle the rollout.
Starting July 16, 2022, dial 9–8–8 will connect you to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can still reach Lifeline by dialing 1–800–273–8255 (TALK) until July 16, 2022.
Find Treatment at SAMHSA.gov is a free, confidential, 24–7 referral and information service for those seeking mental health services.