Just like 911 is our national hotline for emergencies, 988 is soon to be our national hotline for mental health in times of crisis. Going into effect on 7/16, the new code is much easier to remember than the 10-digit number that was in place beforehand.
When the number goes into effect, individuals looking for help will be able to call, text or online chat with the trained counselors at the other end of the line from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the existing suicide prevention number—it’s 800-273-8255—will still remain active even when the new number goes into place.
While this is extremely exciting news for all, NBC News reports that some mental health professionals worry they will not be able to handle the incoming flood of calls. “We have all of the technology,” says Jennifer Piver, executive director of Mental Health America of Greenville County in South Carolina per NBC. “We do not have the funding for staff, for salaries.”
The publication also reports that in 2020, bipartisan legislation in Congress approved the launch of the 988 emergency number, but fell short in the categories of financial support for staff, phone lines, computer systems and other infrastructures. With that, many states have yet to dedicate funds to the service. So far, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Washington have put forth appropriate funding plans for 988.
We’re hoping that by July more states have allocated the funds for the new hotline number so residents in every state have access to fast mental health support.
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