New ‘988’ mental health crisis hotline launches Saturday

Sharanya Sinha
Sharanya Sinha August 6, 2022
Updated 2022/08/09 at 9:17 PM

Starting Saturday, people experiencing a mental health crisis can call or text 988 to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). Connects people with psychological counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Lifeline is a network of over 200 local call centres. If local centres are busy, callers are forwarded to the national call center. Officials have designated a new “911” number for suicide prevention and mental health care. It replaces the old National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

The goal is to reduce the number of mental critical calls that go to 911, which often direct people to packed ambulances or interact with police agencies that are not ready to deal with the situation – an emergency session is a dangerous person or it is dangerous has been working for years: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered to collaborate with the Ministry of Health and Human Services and veteran cases, creating three digital codes for mental health crises. The FCC voted to end the number in 2020 and extend it to text messages in the fall of 2021. But officials downplayed the launch, citing concerns that the government lacks the resources and staff to meet demand, Politico reported.

Under the old scheme, most calls from multiple states were sent to a national center. Callers still got help, but experts say the local response could have been better. “If they’re not very local in your state, it’s going to be difficult for them to connect to the services that are available in those communities,” Matthew Winterstein, an associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania, told Politico. Many states are struggling to keep their emergency toll-free programs funded and not increase the number of people who call. Officials expect an increase in calls after changing the number to 988. Health and Human Services Secretary Javier Becerra said during a press conference that Lifeline is run by state programs, not the federal government, so states must provide the necessary support. However, he said Saturday’s launch marked the beginning of a transition period.”If you want to turn to someone in an hour of need, 988 will be there. 988 will not be a busy signal and 988 will not stop you. You will get help.” He said. “That’s the goal. It’s not going to happen right away.”

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