New three-digit hotline number for mental health crises effective Saturday

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Paul Dolan
Mental health
The new hotline number for people experiencing mental health crises. (CREDIT: WINK NEWS)

People experiencing mental health crises will have a new number to call effective Saturday instead of a 10-digit phone number or 911.

The new three-digit hotline number is 988. When a person struggling with mental health calls 988 the operator who answers will route the call to the appropriate local crisis counselor be it suicide, trauma, or even psychosis.

Starting Saturday anyone who needs help during a mental health emergency can call or text 988.

mental health
The new hotline number to call if you’re experiencing mental health crises. (CREDIT: WINK NEWS)

Antwon Lindsey is a mental health advocate in Lee County. He understands what it’s like to struggle with mental health, and now he helps others. He told WINK News he wishes he had a simple number to call for help when he needed help. “I definitely had a phase within my life where I was going through some things and had no one to reach out to and nowhere to get resources, nowhere to get the help,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey also said the new hotline will especially help people in minority communities. Oftentimes, people there just can’t get to a doctor’s office. “The black communities, Hispanic communities, and communities that are underserved in general,” Lindsey said. “We don’t have access to resources that are for mental health.”

For people with a mental illness calling 911 often leads to dealing with the police. Lauren Conaboy with the Centerstone Crisis Center said that sometimes does more harm than good. “We know that there have been a number of people that have called 911 in the situation of kind of a mental health emergency, and the 911 or the police response has resulted in violence or even death for that individual,” Conaboy said.

The hope is that 988 will soon become as easy to remember as 911.

Conaboy said the 988 hotline comes at a time when there is a drastic need for mental health assistance. There are more than 200 local and state crisis centers participating, so there is no shortage of help available.

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