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New Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline Debuts this Week

July 15, 2022

The 988 dialing code for behavioral and mental health crisis services debuts on Saturday.

As part of a national initiative, the three-digit dialing code will connect people to counselors who are part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. The lifeline is a network of local crisis centers providing free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress in the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • How it works:  Dialing or texting 988 will connect callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The existing Lifeline phone number (800) 273-8255 will remain available.
  • Background:  During 2020, Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to be operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The nation’s public health leaders say the easy-to-remember code is an important step to increase access to life-saving services.
  • A behavioral health focus:  Callers to 911 can have an array of medical emergencies. The new 988 code provides a dedicated connection for people requiring assistance for behavioral and mental health needs.
  • A staggering statistic:  More than 480,000 lives were lost to suicide from 2010 through 2020.
  • Quotable:  “As we continue to confront the impact of the pandemic, investing in this critical tool is key to protecting the health and wellbeing of countless Americans—and saving lives,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospital community are dedicated to supporting behavioral health in our communities. This month, Pennsylvania lawmakers and Governor Wolf finalized the 2022–2023 general fund budget, including more than $142 million in additional funding to support behavioral health care.

Learn more about the 988 crisis support center and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.