New 988 Dialing Code to Offer Immediate Mental Health Services

A new three-digit dialing code number – 988 – will strengthen and expand the reach of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Two essential elements are associated with this new 988 number, which goes live on July 16:

  • Someone to call.
  • Someone to respond.

Dialing 988 will connect people experiencing mental health-related distress with compassionate, accessible care and support that includes a trained crisis counselor. People can also dial 988 if they are concerned about a loved one who may need crisis support.

This national number has been compared to a “911 for mental health” and is available throughout the United States.

Memorial Behavioral Health professionals will support this line and also offer additional resources including Mobile Crisis Teams, stabilization services, a crisis call center and t      he Living Room. Eventually a crisis triage and receiving center will open.

For now, when a person calls 988:

  • A greeting message will play while call is routed to local Lifeline network crisis center (based on the caller’s area code).
  • A trained crisis counselor answers the phone, listens to the caller, determines how their problem is affecting them, provides support and shares resources if needed.
  • If local crisis center is unable to take the call, the caller will be automatically routed to a statewide backup crisis center.
  • The Lifeline provides live crisis center phone services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in more than 250 additional languages for people who call 988.
  • There is also an option for veterans, answered by mental health professionals who are themselves veterans.