Updated: Aug 20, 2022
A potentially life-saving change is here. Similar to 911, someone who is in desperate need of help now just has to call 988.
Everyone knows when you need help, local police and fire are just three digits away. However, when it comes to mental health crises, the dispatcher may not be trained to handle that situation.
The new number launched on July 16th, 2022. It will eventually replace the federal government’s current Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255.
988 will now connect you to a local mental health crisis center. Trained experts will answer the line and help people through their toughest times. The key is to de-escalate.
Eyewitness News in Rockford, IL recently spoke with Joanna de Leon, Owner/Clinical Supervisor of Relevé Counseling, about the change. Not only can people call 988, they can text it too.
“In this day and age, we don’t make phone calls anymore,” said Joanna. “The younger generation really loves to text. It makes it easier and gives you that comfort of something familiar when you’re reaching out for something that could be really hard or difficult in your life that you need help with.”
The hotline itself has existed since 2004. According to a 2018 study by the American Psychological Association, 80% of Lifeline callers said the counselors provided the support they needed and prevented them from acting on their suicide plans.
988 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do not hesitate to call if you’re ever in need.