What Is 988, The New Mental Health Hotline?

988 hotline

Americans know to call 911 to contact emergency services or the police. New Yorkers have also been able to dial 988 to connect with NYC Well for help with non-emergency mental health issues. While nothing will change for New Yorkers, as of July 16, non-New Yorkers will also be able to dial 988 to connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and local outposts. 988 is more convenient and easier to remember than the traditional 10-digit number. Callers will connect with mental health professionals who address people struggling with mental health and substance use disorders, as well as suicidal thoughts. 988 is a nationwide initiative designed to help those in need of mental health help without having to involve the state or local authorities.

What Is 988, The New Mental Health Hotline?

Why Did It Start?

As mentioned, there was already a national 10-digit number for mental health services. However, the United States of America is experiencing a rapid increase in suicide rates and individuals dealing with mental health issues or substance use disorders. With this increase, 988 has been an effort to help reduce the suicide rates and help those in need.

The stigma of mental health around the world is changing. Today, there are many well-known individuals who talk about struggling with the different issues mentioned. Mental health struggles have become an issue of major concern and 988 is a way forward for America to help its people.

In 2016, a service was launched in New York where individuals were transferred to a 24/7 text service, hotline, and chat line. Here, health care professionals could provide the right support and even dispatch a mobile mental health crisis team. This team included healthcare professionals that would attend to mental health emergencies. The downfall though was that they were only available between 8 in the morning to 8 at night.

How Does It Work?

The 988 call center will be available to anyone in the USA should they or a loved one need help or support. New York residents will still connect to NYC Well. Meanwhile, Americans living outside of NYC will connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). A counselor will then answer the call and listen to understand the situation. They will then deal with the situation through guidance or by using available resources. When the crisis stabilization team gets there, a counselor will be available to speak to the person in need. In some cases, they may help the person get to a mental health clinic, without the need of being handcuffed.

Team members will continue to stay in touch with the individual or those that are close to them. This helps to ensure they are getting the support that they need. Ongoing support is important so that the person doesn’t fall back into a crisis.

How Will They Manage It?

The resources and running of the 988 service center are largely supported by donators and local communities. In order to manage the high volumes of calls and dispatches, they are in need of constant financial support. Ongoing financial support helps local crisis centers reach as many people as possible and, most importantly, as quickly as possible.

It is not yet clear how successful the national 988 rollouts will be. To date, not all states and health officials seem to know about the initiative. This is an issue that organizers are working to solve. Organizers are also working to improve and provide the technology needed to enable everyone to use the 988 number, yet still, go through to a local service center close to where the individual is.

By immediately connecting callers to a local mental health service center there will be fewer issues of being transferred to different centers. This will allow the counselors on the phone to dispatch correctly. When this is done the Mobile Crisis Team that is closest to the individual in need will be dispatched. This helps the health care professionals can get there faster and in certain circumstances diffuse any unwanted situations.

Helpful Information: ‘Lives at stake’: Nebraska working on 988 hotline for mental health emergencies – KETV

Blue Sky Counseling Omaha – Mental Health Counseling

I, Carly Spring, M.S., LIMHP, LADC, CPC, offer my specialized expertise to assist in the healing process to anyone who may be experiencing and suffering from a vast spectrum of mental health issues. Such mental health issues include behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, addiction issues, and life transitions. I believe strongly in applying a holistic perspective addressing your whole person not just the bits and pieces of you. Contact us with any questions or to discuss gambling addiction services in Omaha today.