The federally mandated crisis number, 988, became available to all landline and cell phone users on July 16, 2022. The three-digit number is a Suicide and Crisis Lifeline hotline, created to help individuals experiencing psychological emergencies.
The hotline may be used for a variety of mental health crises which include but are not limited to self-harm, addiction, and suicidal ideation. Family and friends are able to call on behalf of another person to get help.
A year in review
Since the hotline went live, it has received around 5 million calls, chats, and texts. One million of them have come from a subset of 988, the Veteran’s Crisis Line. So far, in-state answer rates range from 55% to 98%, which could reflect state investments and length of investment in the crisis services. Data has also found both national answer rates and outreach volume have increased over the past year.
In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that suicide was the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 10-12 and 20-34. To improve access to professional help, individuals are encouraged to spread the word about 988.
Additionally, many workplaces offer mental health benefits and employee assistance programs. According to a recent Amwell survey, around 85% of employees do not use the mental health benefits accessible through their health plans. It is important for employers to be overly communicative about the mental health benefits available to all employees.
Help should be readily available in as many ways as possible to those experiencing distress or a crisis.
For any mental health benefits-related questions, please contact your dedicated ESR team.