Six months after launch, how is 988 doing?
Counties across the country play a key role in developing a behavioral health continuum of care to support community members living with a mental health or substance use disorder or experiencing a suicidal, mental health or substance use crisis. As one element of the continuum, counties may operate a crisis hotline or “warmline” for people to call during times of distress. On July 16, counties added another tool to this part of the continuum when the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline transitioned to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The three digits provide an easy-to-remember number that connects callers to trained crisis counselors who can triage the call, offer mental health support and provide connections to local resources.
After the transition, more people across the country dialed, texted and chatted using the 988 number and were connected with services through the Lifeline. Between November 2021 and 2022, the total number of calls, texts and chats increased 33 percent, with the number of texts increasing six-fold. Despite the increase in volume, the overall answer rate improved from 63 percent to 92 percent and average wait time to speak with a counselor decreased from three minutes and seven seconds to 36 seconds. Read more.