The constant stress from the past few years (i.e., COVID-19, racism, mass shootings, change/global warming, immigration, worry about the economy), has impacted the mental health of Americans. There has been an increase in suicides, opioid-related overdoses deaths, homelessness, and incarceration of people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities. Due to this mental health crisis, Congress approved the new 988-dialing code in 2020. This new phone number will start accepting calls on Saturday, July 16, 2022. It will operate from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number 1-800-273-TALK(8255) will remain active.
SAMSHA sees the establishment of 988 as an important first step in the transformation of the crisis care system in America. The crisis care system aims to address the increasing rate of suicides, opioid-related overdose deaths, homelessness, and the over-representation of individuals with mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use disorders in the criminal legal system. 988 will serve as an entry point into the continuum of care system. In order to save lives, this new system has been established to prevent and manage crisis in a way that offers immediate, accessible, effective, and integrated care. The goal is to reduce suicides and opioid-related deaths and divert individuals from incarceration and unnecessary hospitalizations by accurately assessing, stabilizing, and connecting individuals to mental health and substance use resources.