988 is not just a new number to call, it is an opportunity to rethink how we approach mental health, substance use disorders, and suicide prevention in our communities.
The United States needs a thoughtful and comprehensive response to mental health or substance use crises and suicide prevention. As it stands, there is no consistent pathway a person in crisis can access for help. And for many communities, 911 has become the default response, which has led to frustration, inappropriate care, and in many cases even death. Simply put, without a robust infrastructure that allows for the public to call for help, and consistently get an appropriate response, these trends will not change.
July of 2022 will officially introduce 988, a new number people in our communities, states, and nation will be able to call or text when a crisis arises. However, like many changes for mental health and substance use disorders, if there is no comprehensive plan that outlines needed elements for a thorough and effective response, we run the risk of losing this precious opportunity to do better for everyone.
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