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New 988 Hotline is the 911 for Mental Health Emergencies

A new three-digit number that connects callers directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline went live on Saturday nationwide.

The line will connect callers to trained counselors who will listen, provide support, and work to understand the mental health problems these callers are experiencing, and connect them to the right resources.

Today, an estimated 8% of all calls to 9-1-1 are related to a mental health crisis, according to data from Vibrant Emotional Health. The new 9-8-8 number will provide an easy-to-remember three-digit number people can call to receive the right mental health crisis support.

It’s no secret that people with mental illness don’t get the help they need when they experience a crisis. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has proven effective since its establishment in 2005. The three-digit number 9-8-8, similar to 9-1-1, will make it even easier for folks across the country to connect with help near them.

The Lifeline has a network of counselors at local crisis centers who answer the contacts the Lifeline receives every day. Numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counselor.

In Alabama, the 9-8-8 number has provided an opportunity to create a commission whose sole purpose is to ensure crisis services are available and adequately funded to serve people in this state.

The new system is expected to reduce health-care spending with more cost-effective early intervention, reduce the use of law enforcement and other safety resources by diverting calls from people in mental-health crisis, meet a growing need for crisis intervention and help end the stigma people feel when seeking mental-health services.

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