Just as 911 is our national emergency hotline, 988 will soon be our national mental health crisis hotline. Effective 7/16, the new code is much easier to remember than the 10-digit number that was in place before.
When the number goes into effect, people seeking help will be able to call, text or chat online with the trained counselors on the other end of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network line. According Smithsonian Magazinethe existing suicide prevention number – it’s 800-273-8255 – will remain active even when the new number is in place.
Although this is extremely exciting news for all, BNC News reports that some mental health professionals are concerned that they cannot handle the flood of incoming calls. “We have all the technology,” says Jennifer Piver, executive director of Mental Health America of Greenville County in South Carolina per NBC. “We don’t have the funding for the staff, for the salaries.”
The publication also reports that in 2020, bipartisan congressional legislation 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 infrastructure. With that, many states have yet to commit funds to the service. So far, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Washington have submitted appropriate funding plans for 988.
We hope that by July, more states will have allocated the funds for the new hotline number so that residents of every state have access to prompt mental health support.
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