New Law Creates 988 Hotline For Mental Health Emergencies

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President Trump has signed a bi-partisan bill creating a 3-digit hotline for mental health emergencies. Mental health advocates say it will bring mental health crisis response into the 21st century.
New Law Creates 988 Hotline For Mental Health Emergencies

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President Donald Trump has signed into law a bipartisan bill to create a new three-digit number for mental health emergencies. The Federal Communications Commission had already picked 988 as the number for this hotline and aims to have it up and running by July 2022. The new law paves the way to make that a reality.

"We are thrilled, because this is a game changer," says Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

He and other mental health advocates say this will make it easier for more Americans to access mental health care.

The existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a ten digit number, 1-800-273-TALK and it has seen a rise in call volumes in recent years.

Still, the number isn't easy to remember or dial in times of crisis, says Gebbia. "When you're in crisis, and you're already emotionally upset, the hardest thing to do is find the number that's a 10-digit number and call it."

A three digit number makes it a lot easier. "When there are other emergencies, we know 911," he says. "It's ingrained in our heads, we don't have to think about it."

He and other mental health advocates think the new 988 number will become similarly widely accepted and used.

"A national three-digit number will make it…
Rhitu Chatterjee
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