CONNECTICUT, USA — It’s been a little over a year since the 988 mental health services hotline launched nationally as an easier version of the longstanding National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
In Connecticut, calls to that hotline have more than doubled compared to last year.
“It’s to the National Suicide Prevention line that we’ve seen almost double the number of calls in the last year compared to the year before,” said President, and CEO of the United Way of Connecticut, Lisa Tepper Bates.
Last July, the national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched its 988 hotline. The goal was to make it easier and more accessible to reach out for help.
According to the United Way of Connecticut, which responds to calls and texts to that three-digit number, there has been a 125 percent increase since the change.
"We knew that demand was there. 988 has simply made it, I think, much easier for people to understand the path to reach that assistance," said Tepper Bates.
The 988 system works by connecting callers with the same trained crisis counselors as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
According to United Way, Connecticut takes it a step further by connecting people directly with mobile mental health crisis teams, made up of clinicians.
“Whether it’s on the youth side in partnership with the Department of Children's and Families or with adults through partnerships with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction services, that is an additional level of service that many states are trying to build, but Connecticut right now offers,” said Tepper Bates.
And as calls increase, having access to mental health services is what Psychiatrist, Dr. Javeed Sukhera said needs to continue to be brought to the forefront.
“Throughout the pandemic and during the post-pandemic period, many more people are struggling and reaching out for help and that is definitely a good thing. At the same time, what it speaks to is that we have the resources to be able to provide support for people that need it,” said Dr. Javeed Sukhera.
United Way officials say 89 percent of their callers say they feel like their crisis has diminished during the call which is their goal.
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