Are we ready for 988, the new mental health emergency hotline?

America’s new mental health emergency hotline, 988, is just weeks away from launching in the United States.

Starting July 16, people in the United States can call or text this universal three-digit number to contact the National Suicide and Crisis Helpline, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Once launched, 988 will become an easier-to-remember way to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; but the old number — 800-273-TALK (8255) — will still be used and will direct callers to Lifeline’s call center as well.

“Having an easy-to-remember number will be a lifesaver. It’s about making sure the mental health crisis gets a mental health response,” says Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI and other organizations, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, have been involved in the development and launch of 988.

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