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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News: One year after 988, more Americans connected to care


By ERIC AMOH

July 16 marks one year since our nation transitioned to 988, the easy-to-remember, nationwide mental health crisis helpline. This number connects callers with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). Congress designated 988 in 2020 and as a part of the federal government’s commitment to addressing the mental health crisis in America, unprecedented federal resources have been invested to scale up crisis centers in support of 988.

988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors. Access is available through every land line, cell phone, and voice-over internet device in the United States and call/text services are also available in Spanish, along with interpretation services in over 150 languages.

Spread the word: Help is available.

Since the launch of 988 in 2022, data show an increase in overall calls, texts, and chats – all while answer rates are significantly improving. More people are getting connected to care (and connected sooner) than ever before. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

• 98% of people who contact 988 are helped by a trained crisis counselor, resources are shared, and community connections made (without the involvement of 911) during the call/text/chat.
• 9,360 is the average number of daily contacts to 988.
• About 1% of people who contact 988 agree to have their crisis counselor call 911 because of serious risk to life.
• In fewer than 1% of 988 calls, the crisis counselor must call 911 without consent because of serious risk to life.

Don’t wait. We are listening.

If someone is experiencing an emotional crisis or thoughts of suicide, call 988 or seek help at a licensed behavioral health facility. 24/7 assessments are available by contacting us directly. As a behavioral healthcare provider right here in Washington, DC, our team at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington is dedicated to support individuals in a manner that promotes hope, resiliency, connectedness, and recovery. We are proud to partner with the local 988 network and are a resource for individuals referred for help. We appreciate the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

Eric Amoh is CEO of the Psychiatric Institute of Washington.

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