A long-awaited mental health hotline (9-8-8) is now live and available to call 24/7 with an easy number to remember similar to the long-standing emergency line of 9-1-1. If you are suffering a mental health crisis or are suicidal, you can immediately reach a licensed mental health professional for help with no wait or hold times.

New number is an important step for those in crisis

Originally set up in 2005, the National Suicide Hotline has received around 2.2 million calls a year and provided free help to those in a mental health crisis. While the National Suicide Hotline has been a vital help for those in need, the phone number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is not easy to remember in times of crisis. For someone dealing with a mental health crisis, thoughts of suicide, or a loved one in crisis, being able to easily contact someone right away can make a world of difference.

To address this concern, a bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress called the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act to change the phone number to 988 nationwide for suicidal counseling and other mental health crisis. Now up and running since July 16, 2022, with the new number of 9-8-8, people don’t have to stop to look up a number before getting help. They can now simply push three buttons like we do 9-1-1 to get the assistance they need.
With 150 call centers nationwide, 13 of those spread throughout California, there is always someone ready to answer right away and help by talking someone through the crisis or connecting them with local resources to continue with assistance after the call is over.

The 9-8-8 website describes the new service in this way:
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.

California Is investing in 9-8-8 call centers

The mental health crisis hotline needs ongoing and regular funding to be successful as a reliable resource long-term. As a first step to regular funding, California’s Department of Health Care Services is investing $20 million to support this important resource. Governor Gavin Newsom said, “Expanded access to mental health services is a central focus of the California Comeback Plan. This $20 million investment is a critical first step to ensure crisis call centers have capacity and are equipped to help all callers so we can meet Californians where they are and expand resources and support during these difficult times.”

Already in use for a month now, Californians have been calling the 9-8-8 number when they are suffering from a mental health crisis and need help before harming themselves or others. With this investment in the future mental health of people throughout our state, we can now work as a community on spreading the word to those who need to hear it.

Call 9-8-8 whenever you need it

Completely free and confidential, 9-8-8 is emotional support when you need it. Simply call 9-8-8 and you will be connected right away with someone prepared and trained to help. A chat feature is also available on the 9-8-8 website.

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