People in the U.S. can now call or text 988 if they are having a mental health crisis.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline, which will be live nationwide on July 16, is being billed as an alternative to call for mental health emergencies. If someone contacts the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline, they will get a trained crisis counselor who can talk to them about what's happening and connect them to mental health resources and support.

When a person is experiencing a mental health issue, they might call the emergency services. Law enforcement members aren't usually trained to deal with mental health crises. People expecting help have been met with armed police officers who have harmed or killed them.

Stine says that mental health conditions are often faced with a law enforcement response. 988 is a unique hotline that connects callers to the service of crisis counseling and crisis intervention.

When will 988 go into effect?

988 will be launched nationwide on Saturday, July 16. People can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline if they have suicidal thoughts. When 988 launches, the number will remain operational, but will be known as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline. The service is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

What happens when you contact 988?

People can communicate with each other. More than 200 local and state crisis centers will be used for callers and texters. If someone calls from an area code different from their current location, they will be directed to a center that matches their number's area code. They should let the crisis counselor who answers know if they want to speak to someone who knows local resources.

confidentially describe their situation or what's happening with a loved one after connecting with a crisis counselor Mental health professionals who respond are trained to offer support, de-escalate crisis, and offer referrals for help when applicable. Contact information for local public health organizations and crisis intervention services can be found in the resources.

Stine says connecting individuals with mental health services and resources is a crucial part of suicide prevention.

A mobile crisis team or law enforcement may be used in a small percentage of cases. According to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, only 2% of calls need emergency services.

"Connecting individuals with resources is a vital component of suicide prevention."

A licensed mental health professional may be included in a mobile crisis team. The teams assess the person and decide if they need emergency care. Law enforcement is usually sent when crisis teams are unavailable.

The quality of services will be different in different regions. Some states have invested a lot of money in their mental health crisis services. The map below shows the crisis centers in each state.

Will someone always answer a 988 call?

There are concerns that some crisis service centers won't be able to meet the increased demand that will come with a universal hotline number. The Wall Street Journal found that 1 in 6 calls were abandoned or disconnected before a counselor could respond to them. Most of the calls were sent to a backup call center because the local centers couldn't answer them. Eighty percent of callers who hang up wait more than two minutes to speak to a counselor.

There is an opportunity to direct more funding to crisis services.

The vice president of national networks for Vibrant Emotional Health told the Journal that there should be some differences with more resources.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the federal government has put $432 million into 988. The Bipartisan Safe Communities Act was passed last month. Investing in such things makes a difference. The initial increased spending meant that the Lifeline was able to answer 17,000 more calls, 37,000 more chats, and 3000 more text messages.

"Don't give up, stay on the line or call right back if you need to", says Stine.

Resources and support can be provided by other crisis lines. The Crisis Text Line is one of these.

The Crisis Text Line is free and confidential. To get in touch with a crisis counselor, text CRISIS to 741741. The help line is open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. Email You can call the National suicide prevention hotline. International resources are listed here.