Imagine being in an emergency situation and needing to search for the number to your local police or fire department or local hospital to get an ambulance? It probably seems unimaginable because today, if you are in an emergency, you simply dial 911 to access all of those services. When someone is experiencing thoughts of suicide, having a mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, they deserve a solution just as simple. Beginning July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will transition to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Compassionate, accessible mental health support is now available for calls, texts and chats for anyone with the new three-digit code: 988.
The new 988 code comes at a time when our country is in a mental health crisis. And yet, the need for mental health services is too great for any one organization to meet the demand alone and no one service can provide help for everyone. That’s why Crisis Text Line’s service and number will stay the same. Our service is complementary to 988. Anyone in crisis can text HOME to 741741 for English and AYUDA to 741741 for Spanish support. Our service is also available on WhatsApp at 443-SUPPORT for English and 442-AYUDAME for Spanish. As always, we are here for you.
As suicide rates and feelings of sadness and hopelessness rise for so many in our country, especially youth, meeting the moment will require as many resources as possible. The implementation of 988 capstones years of advocacy to increase federal funding for mental health crisis services and recognizes that texting saves lives. While the federal government is stepping up with unprecedented investments in mental health, there is more work to be done. We need to continue the investment to:
- Ensure mental health mobile crisis teams are available in every community to provide in-person support to people in crisis
- Increase the availability of crisis stabilization options in local communities
- Strengthen the mental health crisis workforce.
The collective efforts that made 988 a reality were the first step. This momentum will propel us forward to even more opportunity to change the way we address and treat mental health in this country. We’re excited and ready to help build the infrastructure for a robust continuum of care for people in crisis.