A mental health challenge or crisis can occur at any time, so it’s critical that individuals are able to access mental health support at any time. However, a therapist may not be available when help is needed, and emergency systems are often not well-equipped to manage mental health needs.

That’s why we applaud the nationwide launch of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline on July 16. 988 has been designated as the simplified three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, connecting callers to trained counselors 24/7 for free. While 988 is not a new number, it was previously only accessible in certain parts of the U.S., so this marks the first time it will be available nationwide.

Virginia is making preparations to ensure they have the capacity and infrastructure needed to meet the demands of the hotline once it launches. While the state, like many others, is still working through challenges, Virginia is one of at least 20 states that have enacted legislation, such as added fees onto phone bills, to fund the expanded system.

Remember, whether you’re managing a chronic mental health condition, experiencing an episodic crisis, or just need someone to talk to, you are not alone. If you need immediate help, 988 is available 24/7 and connects you with a counselor at a local crisis center. And if you need ongoing professional support, remember that Sunstone is here for you. Reach out to find the right counselor who can guide you on your journey to a brighter tomorrow.

Who Can Call 988?
According to the Lifeline website, people call to talk about lots of things: substance abuse, economic worries, relationships, sexual identity, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and loneliness, to name a few.

“No matter what problems you’re dealing with, whether or not you’re thinking about suicide, if you need someone to lean on for emotional support, call the Lifeline,” the website says.

Can You Still Call 1-800-SUICIDE?
The 1-800-273-8255 phone number will remain active along with the 988 number for people experiencing a mental health or suicidal crises.

Will They Know Who Calls?
988 calls are anonymous and confidential.

Does Calling 988 Cost Money?
Calls and texts to the hotline are free and accessible to landlines, cellphones and through internet calls.

Would you like to learn more?
Sunstone Counseling aims to support you throughout life’s challenges. Stay up-to-date on upcoming workshops and group sessions, and get mental health tips and resources when you connect with us.