Soon, people who are struggling with their mental health will be able to simply dial 988 for help.

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If you need suicide or mental health-related crisis support, or are worried about someone else, please call or text 1-800-273-8255 or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s chat to connect with a trained crisis counselor. This number will continue to be available even after the launch of 988.

What is 988

The mental health version of 911 is set to launch nationwide on July 16th with hopes it will be a game changer for suicide prevention and other mental health emergencies. Dialing 988 will route callers to their local crisis center via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The intent of the Lifeline, and 988, goes beyond suicide prevention, as it offers help to people in mental health distress, including problems related to substance abuse.

The new national three-digit number - 988 - is meant to connect people in mental health crises with those who are specially trained to respond to such situations. Some areas already have access to the easy-to-remember number, however it will be available to everyone across the United States on July 16.

 

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How Did 988 Come to Pass

In 2020, bipartisan legislation in Congress mandated the launch of the 988 emergency number. However, they left financial support for a few things up to the states, including staffing, phone lines, computer systems and other infrastructure.

Many areas are worrying that they may not be ready for the influx of calls once the number goes live across the country, especially those states who did not allocate money toward the service.

 

 

As of April, Louisiana has been gearing up for the launch to be best prepared, and plans to continue to expand throughout the state.

While the cause for concern in the rollout may make some think twice, Americans are advised to use 988 when they are in need, once it goes live. According to SAMHSA, if a caller's local crisis center is unable to answer, the caller will be automatically routed to a national "backup" center.

Answer the Call

If you would like to help, there are centers that are looking to add to their staff.

These centers are looking to bring on new volunteers and paid employees. You will receive training, so if you are a caring person who wants to help those in crisis, apply today. Find your opportunity: samhsa.gov/988-jobs

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