Dialing 988 for Mental Health Support

Dialing 988 for Mental Health Support
July 8, 2022 Sue Riordan

If you need mental health crisis support, soon you’ll be able to simply dial 988. The new three-digit phone number will launch nationally on July 16 and will work similarly to 911 in an emergency.

The new number is a huge step toward expanding and improving access to mental health services to meet a growing need.

How does it work?

Once launched, the new phone line will begin to replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is 1.800.273.8255. If you text or call 988, you’ll be connected to a local crisis center in your area. There is currently a network of over 200 centers across the country.

From here, trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 via phone, text, or an easy-to-use chat feature. Counselors are trained to listen, offer emotional support and provide mental health resources.

Special options are available for deaf, hard of hearing or Spanish-speaking individuals. Also, veterans—if they wish—can be routed to a veteran’s crisis line.

Improved access to well-being resources

The new 988 number is a result of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which Congress passed in 2020. While only a first step, it’s a big one toward meet the growing need for more mental health and well-being resources.

Having a number that’s easy to remember improves access to care, especially at urgent moments. Dialing 988 can also quickly and efficiently connect individuals to longer-term care, allowing for improved recovery and a better quality of life. And the new number is expected is have a strong impact on suicide prevention.

When should you call 988?

If you’re experiencing any kind of mental health distress, you can dial 988 for help. This may include:

    • Thoughts of suicide.
    • Substance use crisis.
    • Other emotional distress.

You can also dial 988 if you’re worried about a friend, loved one or someone close to you—and think they need assistance.

Meritain Health® is committed to mental well-being

As Advocates for Healthier Living, addressing mental and emotional well-being is a top priority.

The 988 initiative aligns with our goals of improving access and lowering total cost of care. If you’re an employer looking for ways to help employees with behavioral health and other health goals, we have tools and point solutions that may help!

Contact your Meritain Health representative if you’d like to find out more.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice.