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EDITORIAL: A step forward in mental health

Posted 7/22/22

Modeled after 911, the new three-digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who are suicidal or in any other mental health crisis to a …

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EDITORIAL: A step forward in mental health

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Modeled after 911, the new three-digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who are suicidal or in any other mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional.

“If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there,” said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, at a recent press briefing. “988 won’t be a busy signal, and 988 won’t put you on hold. You will get help.”

The primary goal of the new number is to make it easier for people to call for help. Lawmakers and mental health advocates also see this launch as an opportunity to transform the mental health care system and make care easily accessible everywhere in the United States. The Biden administration has invested more than $400 million in beefing up crisis centers and other mental health services to support the 988 system.

The new three digit phone number — 988 — is easier to remember than the previous 800 number, and it comes with the hope that more people will get help via dialing or texting the number.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that people experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression went from about 10% in normal times to 40% during the pandemic.

The new call number is a simple way to get people the mental health help they need. It’s a good start.

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