On Saturday, July 16, a new three-digit telephone service, 988, went live and the behavioral health community in Doña Ana County is ready.
Anyone experiencing mental health-related distress, whether that includes thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress can reach compassionate, accessible care. 988 is also available to those worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
County residents can call or text 988 and get connected to a trained crisis counselor. If in-person assistance is needed, 988 can dispatch a mobile team that will connect the caller to the Crisis Triage Center, the County's 24/7/365 facility that addresses mental health or substance use crises
Referrals to other area behavioral health services can be made as well, if needed. "We stand ready to serve as a resource to address the needs of our communities in Doña Ana County," Crisis Triage Center Director Karina Diaz said.
More people are recognizing the need to have someone to talk with, so they can sort through their problems. "Following the pandemic, many are finding it difficult to find normalcy or adjust to the new normal. This two-year period of disease spread and isolation potentially made a bad situation worse when there was a lack of access to crisis care," Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Director Jamie Michael said.
The 988 line was established to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets the growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs. The 988 line provides easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources, which is different from the public safety purposes of 911, where the focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire and police, as needed.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is funded by SAMHSA and has been administered by Vibrant Emotional Health since it began in 2005. The Lifeline is a national network of more than 200 local, independent crisis centers equipped to help people in mental health related distress or experiencing a suicidal crisis via call, chat, or text. The Lifeline provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the U.S.
For information online, visit 988nm.org.