On July 16th 2022, the first nationwide three-digit phone number for mental health and substance use crisis support launched. The number, 988, built on the existing Lifeline Network, gives people in distress an easy phone number to reach out to when help is needed. EveryMind is one of the eight accredited centers across Maryland who responds to 988/Lifeline calls, texts and chats.
Six months since launch, we can confidently say 988 is a valued and needed resource. Our Hotline continues to see a rise in the number of calls coming in – nearly double compared to the same time last year. Texts and chats have increased more than 300%.
On the Hotline, we are particularly aware of the rapid rise of contacts coming from youth – 80% of chat and text users are 10-24 years old.
Empathy and compassion drive many Hotline Crisis Counselors to work every day, no matter how heartbreaking some of the stories are on the other end of the line. “I love that I know for a fact I am doing good in my community. Good call or not, I know I was there to pick up the phone and make the difference. That’s worth a lot to me,” said a Counselor. Another Counselor chimed in, “it is very interesting to interact with such a diversity of people, gratifying to support people, gratifying to connect with people. It’s just nice to feel how compassion and curiosity between caller and Counselor can bond us.”
Together as a community, we will fight the scourge of this mental health crisis and strive toward a future where everyone’s mental wellness is a priority. Every mind matters. The accessibility of 988 makes our mission more achievable.
Author: Dipika Cheung, Manager, Hotline Operations