What to Know About the 988 Mental Health Hotline

Jul 18, 2022, 08:51 AM by MSDC Staff
Briefly learn the background on the new 988 number

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched nationally this week as a new resource to help those in distress. 

Created by federal law, the 988 number is an option for people experiencing a mental health crisis to receive help via phone call or text. The number connects to trained mental health professionals and is modeled after 911 for physical emergencies. With the new three-digit emergency number, people with behavioral health crises can reach experienced professionals and not rely on 911.

As medical professionals in the behavioral health space can attest, too often behavioral health crises are handled like physical health crises. That means people in need may be sent to emergency rooms or correctional facilities which cannot immediately address the behavioral health need.

The three-digit number will work in tandem with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's current ten-digit number (), and calls to that number will be routed to 988. If the main 988 call center becomes inundated with calls, 16 backup facilities have been contracted to handle calls and texts.