988 Is the New 911 for Mental Health
As of July 16, Americans experiencing a mental health crisis can call or text 988 to reach the national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. This change will save lives by enabling people who need help to dial only three numbers to connect with trained mental health and substance use counselors.
While the original suicide hotline phone number, 800-273-8255, is still available, the 988 shortcut should be easier for people to remember in an emergency. Counselors are available to answer free, confidential calls 24/7. They have experience in responding to a wide range of mental health issues, including self-harm, addiction, and suicidal ideation.
988 Fills a Gap in Mental Health Care
Launching a new number is an opportunity to address our national suicide and addiction epidemics and make help more accessible nationwide. The Biden administration has already invested more than $400 million in enhancing response centers and other essential services to support the 988 system.
During a mental health crisis, many people call 911 because they don’t know where else to turn. However, doing so typically results in stressful emergency room visits or interactions with police officers, either of which can lead to tragedy or trauma. Ideally, 988 will become a widely known, safer, and more effective alternative.
Calling or texting 988 will route people to the nearest response center based on their area code, which will connect them to experienced mental health counselors who are familiar with nearby resources and services.
Supporting 988 Requires Additional Funding
Transitioning to 988 is part of a widespread, long-term effort to scale up mental emergency response teams around the country. Congress approved 988 as the national suicide hotline in 2020, but did not allocate full federal funding, leaving it up to each state to come up with the resources.
When people are alone, afraid, and in dire need of help, they should receive an immediate response. Unfortunately, a lack of resources has forced many crisis centers to close in recent years. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the lifeline received 3.6 million calls, texts, and chat messages in 2021. But a 2021 report by SAMHSA found the current system responds to only 85% of calls, 56% of texts, and 30% of chats.
In response to the launch of 988, Florida has started increasing its ability to provide urgent care to people experiencing mental and behavioral health problems. In 988’s first year, it will cost the state an estimated $28 million to respond to the increased demand of having a more accessible crisis support hotline.
Tailored Mental Health Treatment at R&A Therapeutic Partners
If you struggle with mental or behavioral health issues, our trained therapists can create a personalized plan for improving your well-being. We improve your quality of life with our concierge-level crisis and case management, which is available at nights and on weekends. We also maintain collaborative, team-based relationships with other professionals, including physicians and recovery coaches, to provide the additional support you and your family might need. Contact us today to learn how we can help you heal.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.