This is a free service. The program will be funded by the federal government which has provided over $280 million, not only for the hotline but to help states create systems that will do much more, including mobile mental health crisis teams that can be sent to people’s homes and emergency mental health centers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the lead federal agency, in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Veterans Affairs that will be overseeing this new initiative.
The public should be made aware that when this new hotline does go live, it will not necessarily reach everyone across the country at the same time. It will take perhaps a few years to reach the entire country. The hotline is designed not only for individuals in crisis with thoughts of suicide but for all people in emotional distress.
The new 988 system will build upon National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
, which is an existing network of over 200 crisis centers nationwide staffed by counselors who answer millions of calls each year. Calls to the lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, will still go through even with 988 in place.
On July 16, 2022, the first nationwide three-digit mental health crisis hotline went live. This hotline is designed to be easy to remember and by dialing 988, an individual in crisis will be connected to trained mental health counselors.