New Mental Health Hotline - 988
An exciting new-and-improved national mental health emergency hotline is now live across the U.S.
What is it?
988 is the new Mental Health Hotline set up by U.S. federal government.
It’s a better-funded better-staffed version of the long-standing National Suicide Prevention line. In fact, it supplants the National Suicide Prevention line, with all calls to that line being forwarded to 988.
Only the scope of appropriate calls has been greatly broadened. The hotline is there to help with any type of mental health emergency.
988 is modeled after the well-known 911 emergency number and will operate 24/7 nationwide. You can call it, text it, or even chat through the new hotline. And the hotline’s administrators promise you’ll speak with someone right away.
There are call centers across the country with a call overflow process that diverts calls at peak times to lower volume centers, helping to ensure someone is on the line almost immediately.
Who is it for?
While 988 it has its roots in Suicide Prevention, 988 is for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. It is definitely not just for those feeling suicidal. Anyone suffering from a mental health crisis should feel free to call the hotline.
And it’s important to know that you can call in to find help for a loved one; you don’t have to be the one with the mental emergency.
Why is this a big deal?
Prior to 988, a large percentage of mental health emergencies were fielded by 911 operators. These operators had no choice but to triage the calls and forward any apparent emergencies to law enforcement agencies. These agencies are, or course, ill-equipped to address mental health matters.
The hope is that 988 will help transform the mental health care system in the U.S. The goal is to provide accessibility to trained professionals earlier in the crisis, helping to prevent tragedies of all forms.
Great. What should I do with this information?
First off, keep it in mind for yourself. If you find yourself in any type of mental health crises, this hotline is here for you.
Keep it mind for your loved ones. If someone is on the verge of a breakdown or suicidal or saying things that scare you, you can call the hotline on their behalf to discuss next steps and options.
And help spread the word! Tell your children about it. Tell your elderly parents about it. Even bring it up when you’re out with friends. We all have to do our part to increase the public awareness of this important resource.
Dr. Wayne Bullock is a Washington D.C. area therapist specializing in the needs of gay men, the LGBTQ community, and those dealing with anxiety, depression, and trauma.