What is 988?

On November 5, 2022

988 FAQ

Q: What is 988?

A: 988 is a nationwide telephone hotline.  It functions similarly to 911.  However, unlike 911, which covers emergencies in general, 988 has been specifically created to respond to mental health crises. 

Q: When are the 988 counselors available? 

A:  988 counselors are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  

Q: When should I call 988? 

A: You can call 988 for any time-sensitive mental health concern.  People often think of suicidal thoughts or actions as the only reason to seek psychiatric help emergently.  However, 988 counselors are trained to help with a variety of mental health crises. In addition to suicidal thoughts or behavior, 988 operators can urgently assess substance use or intoxication concerns, psychosis, violent thoughts or actions or concerns related to self-injury.  

Q: If I call 988, who will answer? 

A: You will be transferred to a local trained crisis counselor, who will work to understand your concerns.  At that point, your counselor can suggest steps of further action and discuss mental health resources available in your local community. 

Q: Can I text 988 instead? 

A: Yes.  After completing a very brief survey, you can text or “chat” directly with a crisis counselor.  

Q: Is my concern “serious enough” to call 9-8-8? 

A: If you aren’t sure, just call!  9-8-8 counselors are trained to assess the severity of your situation and how quickly you may need to locate in-person help. 

About The Author

Dr. Rebecca Durkin
Dr. Rebecca Durkin is a Board Certified General Psychiatrist who specializes in Psychopharmacology (and loves the outdoors).

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