New Three-Digit Mental Health Emergency Helpline Set To Launch Across U.S.
The government’s decision to implement the new service has been prompted by the worrying rise in mental health related emergencies and suicide. If you are affected by cyberbullying or anything touched on within this article, follow the links to our various support services or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to start using Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant.
Federal regulators have voted unanimously in favor of introducing a new three-digit free emergency service number, similar to 911, for urgent mental health support. The move has come after a law passed last year required the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to study the assignment of a three-digit number for suicide prevention.
It was determined that a new number specifically for mental health issues would be preferable than one used for other emergency services, such as 911. Supporters of the initiative say that a dedicated number, along with a message that mental health is as important as other medical emergencies, could help to reduce the stigma of calling the helpline.
“No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.”
Ajit Pai, Chairman, FCC
The government’s decision to implement the new service has been prompted by the worrying rise in mental health related emergencies and suicide, which is now the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and has increased by 33% in the past 20 years. This rise puts a considerable strain on ‘first responders’ from 911 related services, many of which are not trained to deal with mental health related emergencies.
The service is expected to be launched within the next eighteen months and will be funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. The FCC has estimated it will cost an extra $50 million a year to handle the increase in crisis center calls but they point out that as the number is used more widely, money would be saved on expensive 911 first responder costs.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, went on to explain how people making calls because of suicidal thoughts can often be helped just by talking them through it, without needing to send a first responder.
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