On Saturday 7/16/2022 the US went live with it’s first mental health crisis hotline number 988. Designed to be as easy to remember but instead of the dispatchers sending police, firefighters or paramedics, 988 will connect callers with trained mental health counselors. This service is now available for everyone in the United States.
“One of the goals of 988 is to ensure that people get the help that they need when they need it, where they need it. And so, when a person calls 988, they can expect to have a conversation with a trained, compassionate crisis counselor who will talk with them about what they’re experiencing. If it’s the case that they need further intervention, then likely the crisis counselor will connect with a local mobile crisis team,” Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the administrator of SAMHSA, stared earlier to reporters.
“Some of the goal is to, where possible, minimize unnecessary contact or connection with police departments when what a person needs is connecting with either a mobile crisis worker or anyone within the mental health and behavioral health system of care,” she also shared.
This comes after growing concerns about if police are being properly trained to handle mental health crisis and can they deal with the influx in calls. Too many people experience suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need. There are urgent mental health realities driving the need for crisis service transformation across our country. In 2020 alone, the U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes—and for people aged 10-34 years, suicide is a leading cause of death.
Anyone who needs help with their mental health, particularly people in crisis. A major goal of the 988 Lifeline is creating equity in mental health services, especially for those who have not always had consistent or reliable access to mental health care.