Thomas G. Suk, PhD, LMFT, LCPC" />

988: The New Mental Health Crisis Line

The new 988 mental health emergency number is something new and something not so new. New is the three-digit, easy to remember number. What is not new are the resources behind 988 which are the current local and regional suicide prevention offices. The use of 988 will make calling during mental health emergencies much easier and faster. After all, how many of us know the old (and still in use) 10-digit national suicide prevention number?

Preventing suicide and addressing threats to take one’s life will remain a major focus of the trained staff and counselors at 988. But in addition, the new number 988 will expand resources for those in mental health crisis in the following ways:

  • 988 is for all mental health crises, not just suicide prevention. If you are experiencing significant depression, high anxiety, panic, or other mental health crisis, you have a ready resource available at 988.
  • 988 is also available to those who are helping someone in a mental health crisis. You can call 988 if you are with someone or trying to help someone in a mental health crisis.

Your call to 988 will be directed whenever possible to a local resource and staff trained in responding to mental health emergencies. A call to 988 is the first step in getting immediate help and direction to additional resources and counselors in your local area. The phone number is intended as an emergency response and is not a direct provider of ongoing counseling services.

Most calls can be successfully responded to in the initial contact. If an individual is in immediate danger of taking their life the 988 staff can coordinate with local 911 resources to help.

The vision behind 988 includes ongoing expansion of emergency mental health services. The federal organization founded in 2005 for overseeing 988 is SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a part of the Federal government. The 988 crisis line will provide information on what issues are foremost in caller’s minds and where these calls originate, allowing for additional resources to be provided in specific areas or on specific mental health issues.

988 provides free and confidential resources to those in need and those who seek to help those in need. You can be comfortable knowing there are resources to meet the mental crisis you have or are near to are only 3 digits away on your phone.

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