May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about mental health’s importance and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. While this work is constant and much change is still needed, an exciting and essential step to improving access to mental health support was establishing the new three-digital number 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. At Seven Counties Services, our crisis counselors work around the clock to answer this life-saving Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Here are a few key facts about 988 and how it can help individuals in need:
What is 988?
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a US-based suicide prevention network. It is a service where professional crisis counselors provide supportive counseling, suicide assessment, prevention, and intervention over the phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 988 gives community members a safe, compassionate, and non-judgmental place to seek help whenever needed. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. All services are free, confidential, and callers can remain anonymous if they desire to.
Why is 988 Important?
988 is truly a lifeline! Many individuals struggling with mental health issues may not know where to turn for help or feel too ashamed or embarrassed to seek support. By establishing a simple, easy-to-remember number like 988, we hope that more individuals will feel empowered to reach out for help when needed. No matter where they are, what time it is, or what they are facing, 988 connects them with someone who cares when they need it most. The Lifelines united network provides at-risk individuals nationwide with that single, well-known, easy-to-remember phone number. The national structure enables the Lifeline to ensure that centers are accredited, provide consistent quality training for crisis counselors, and provide best practices for compassionate care.
Why Should Someone Not Be Afraid to Ask For Help?
One of the essential characteristics that the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline looks for in hiring crisis counselors is the ability to remain open and nonjudgement with all callers. They focus on the emotions the caller is experiencing, which can be hard to talk about. Sadly, the stigma often associated with reaching out for help in our society is still strong. Allowing callers to remain anonymous can reduce the concern related to the stigma that might otherwise prevent a person from calling. This can feel like a safer alternative to face-to-face services for many individuals, especially when reaching out for the first time. Learn more about 988 and your privacy.
How Does 988 Work?
Someone calls the 988 Lifeline, and their call is routed to the closest call center based on area code. The goal is to connect callers to counselors in their state. However, if the nearest local crisis center does not have an open line when someone calls, the call is instantly routed to the next available crisis line. Local counselors at the crisis centers are familiar with community mental health resources and can provide referrals to callers.
At Seven Counties Services, we want you to know you are not alone! People are working right now who care about you and want to support you and help you feel better in whatever you are going through! If you or someone you know is struggling and are in need of help, please call 988. It is available to all people, always, from anywhere. Seven Counties Services is here for what may be the most critical moment in someone’s life.
For more information about 988, visit 988lifeline.org/ today.