Introducing The New 988 Mental Health Crisis Line
For a long time now, the conversation about mental health hasn't been on the same level as physical health. There have been improvements, and the stigma over mental illness has decreased. Yet, there is still a discrepancy between the efforts and resources spent compared to physical health care.
On July 18th, a bold change took place to begin to build that bridge. There is now a new 3-digit number for the Mental Health Crisis Line. It is important that not only does word get out about this change, but that those in a vulnerable place understand what is available when you call this new mental health crisis hotline. Here are some key facts you need to know.
What Is the New 988 Number?
988 is the new number for what was formally known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This is now the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which shows a broader level of care beyond those that admit to being suicidal. You can be in crisis and need emergency mental health care even if you have no intention of ending your life.
This 24/7 service is accessible by either calling or texting the short number and going to the right services. The texting option is great for those that want to reach out without actually talking to another person.
Why Did the Mental Health Crisis Line Number Change?
The switch to the shorter 988 may offer some short-term confusion. The new number is similar to the other emergency services, putting it on the same level of importance and accessibility. It has long been just three numbers for an ambulance for a physical emergency. It is nice to see the same for mental health emergencies.
At the same time, a dedicated crisis hotline like this should divert mental health calls away from 911. This will then free up resources for those in need of physical care. At the same time, it stops the police from becoming involved as a last resort.
What Happens When You Call 988?
For a start, you shouldn't be worried about being left on hold. The range of the call centers means that counselors will answer when you call/text without waiting. This was partly made possible by a $400 million government investment.
When you call/text you will reach a trained counselor with the skills and education to help you with your situation. This could mean a conversation about whatever is going on at that moment, guidance on how to deal with specific issues, or a referral to specialist care. This could then lead to links to a therapist or other care in the community. There is also a special extension to reach a service for veterans. All callers should come away in a better position than when they dialed.
Who Can Call The 988 Mental Health Hotline?
Anyone. It is important to emphasize this. This crisis hotline is not just for those considering taking their life or physically harming themselves or others. All those in this situation should call. But, the line is also open to anyone struggling with a mental health diagnosis, having medication issues, or anything else. Even if you are undiagnosed and feeling low, a chat could help you get back on track.
How Much Does It Cost To Call 988?
The switch to the 988 hasn't made a difference to the cost. It is still free to call and free to access the guidance at the other end. Any further services and care after the call may incur a charge, but that's not something to worry about right now. This should be a relief for those on a low income worrying about rising costs, who may have decided against calling.
Mental Health Hotline Services Have Changed For The Better.
It may take some getting used to, but 988 number will hopefully be as easy to remember as 911. It should become an easier way to access mental health advice and services in an emergency. As a result, hopefully, more patients and anyone struggling will get faster links to the care they need. Add it to your contacts next to the other emergency services. You don't know when you might need it.