New 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline Launches in Ohio

suicide prevention call center
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People experiencing a mental health crisis have a new way to access help. Modeled after 911, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a quick and easy number that connects people who are going through a mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional. 

The federal government is requiring every state to launch its own 988 hotline among its crisis centers, and Ohio is no exception. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) has been building a system that was launched on July 16, 2022

Here’s everything you need to know about the new 988 mental health hotline.

How Does the 988 Crisis Hotline Work? 

Ohioans who are suicidal or experiencing another mental health crisis can call, text or chat 988. Family members who are also worried about their loved one can dial in and get help from a trained counselor. 

The purpose of the new 988 number is to help people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. The majority of people in this position end up calling 911, but this emergency number doesn’t address mental health needs. 

When dialing 911, either callers end up in the emergency room or have to deal with law enforcement. Unfortunately, these routes can lead to long wait times to receive care or additional tragedy or trauma. Mental health advocates are hoping that 988 will become a safer alternative. 

How Long Has Ohio Been Working on the Crisis Hotline? 

The OhioMHAS has been working on the hotline for the last 18 months. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided a two-year, $3.3 million grant to Ohio to improve the capacity to take calls, collect information and develop new policies. Funding will last through June 2023. 

Additionally, the OhioMHAS has dedicated $20 million in federal funding for startup costs in the first year. And on May 25, the Ohio House approved House Bill 468. If approved by the state Senate and signed into law, the bill will establish a repository to receive funding for the 988 crisis hotline. 

Is the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline Confidential? 

Absolutely. Dialing 988 will put you in touch with a trained mental health professional who can access resources in your area. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you’ll never have to wait on hold. 

All calls, texts and chats are 100% confidential. This means that your information will never be shared without your consent, unless your safety is in immediate danger. Chats are secured with the same data protection standards that the major banks use. Anything typed is encrypted. 

Furthermore, you do not need to provide any personal information to access 988. The only time a counselor will ask for this information is to put you in touch with local support services. 

What Types of Situations Can 988 Help With? 

988 is not just for suicide concerns. It’s a resource for anyone going through a crisis related to substance use or mental health. It’s also a resource for family members who are worried about a loved one. 

The counselors are available to listen and support you through whatever difficulties you are facing, and put you in touch with local resources. It doesn’t matter if you’re going through an addiction crisis, mental health crisis or feel suicidal – you can get the help and support you need through 988. 

Seek Substance Use and Addiction Treatment in Ohio

Forward Health in Ohio focuses on helping people move forward in their recoveries – and their lives. We offer a wide range of substance use and mental health treatment services, including intensive outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, and outpatient care. Contact our team today to start your life-changing journey.