988: US launches mental health and suicide prevention hotline


The US health official says the song, which goes live Saturday, aims to make mental health care accessible to more Americans.

The United States will launch its first nationwide three-digit mental health emergency hotline that will connect people experiencing psychological distress or suicidal thoughts with trained counselors.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which goes live Saturday, aims to “bring crisis care more within reach for those in need.”

“988 is more than a number, it’s a message: we’re here for you. Through these and other actions, we are treating mental health as a priority and bringing crisis care within reach of more Americans,” Xavier Becerra, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement Friday.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. But what matters is that we launch, 988 will be live. We are counting on every governor and every state in the nation to do their part to make this a long-term success.”

The initiative is akin to 911, the US number used nationwide for physical health and safety emergencies. The new issue came amid an ongoing push to connect people with mental health problems to mental health professionals rather than dispatch armed police officers, leading to possible violence and needless arrests.

The new three-digit suicide and mental health crisis number was approved by Congress in a 2020 bill signed by then-President Donald Trump.

Since January 2021, the Biden-Harris administration has made unprecedented investments to support the 988 transition, investing $432 million to scale crisis center capacity and ensure all Americans have access to aid during crises in the United States. mental health,” SAMHSA said.

The new system builds on an existing program – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – with more than 200 crisis centers in the US. Calls to the old number, 1-800-273-8255, still go through even after 988 comes online.

Potential patients will also be able to send text messages to 988.

HHS Assistant Secretary Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said the agency is working with states to expand access to mental health services.

“Over time, the vision for 988 is to have additional emergency services available in communities across the country, much like emergency medical services operate,” Delphin-Rittmon said in a statement.

On Friday, several U.S. law enforcement officials, officials and lawmakers promoted the new initiative, asking voters to use the new number if they need help.

“On July 16, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number will change to 988. If you are struggling with your mental health, text or call this number anytime, anywhere in the U.S. to be put through to a trained counselor,” the Detroit Police Department said. in a tweet. “Remember, you’re not alone.”

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