988, the new number for the well known 24-hour hotline to assist callers experiencing a range of mental health emergencies, launches this Saturday, July 16.
Starting then anyone in the US who texts or calls 988 will be connected with a trained counselors who can help them cope with a mental health emergency and direct them to additional resources for mental health and substance use treatment.
Per the New York Times, the line will be referred to as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, to emphasize that the service is for people experiencing a mental health crisis of any kind, not just those involving suicidal ideation.
“Anyone experiencing a mental health or substance use issue can call 988. Counselors on the other end of the hotline are trained in handling a wide range of mental health issues, including self-harm, addiction and suicidal ideation, said Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Ideally, when someone calls 988, they will first be connected to one of 200 local call centers, which can help connect them to community resources or dispatch emergency services if necessary. If those call centers are busy, the caller will be automatically directed to a national backup center.”
Need more info? Check out the 988 fact sheet at https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/988-factsheet.pdf.