A new resource is launching this weekend, to support people experiencing emotional distress or a mental health crisis.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline will become available nationwide this Saturday. Ahead of that launch, Vermont’s governor promoted the lifeline this week.
The new number is designed to be easier to remember and access than a previous 1-800 number for crisis help.
Dialing 988 is free, confidential, and trained counselors handle the calls. Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said Vermonters can also access support via text, by texting "VT" to 741741.
“It’s okay to not feel okay,” the governor said Tuesday. “Because you’re not alone. And there’s nothing to be ashamed of in getting some help, or just taking some time to take care of yourself. As well, I want people to know there’s a lot of good out there. And there’s always reason for hope – even when better times feel out of reach.”
Governor Scott indicated the new number is critical, following a rise in mental health challenges and suicides throughout the pandemic.
The Veterans Crisis Line remains available by calling 988 and pressing 1, according to the Scott administration. Spanish speakers can press 2, and interpretation services are available for more than 150 languages, the governor’s office said in a news release.
“We have a strong system of care with many supports available,” Emily Hawes, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental Health. “The transition to 9-8-8 is another step forward in the path to providing accessible, low barrier supports for all Vermonters who need help.”
Here is more information on how the suicide prevention line works, including answers to common questions.
People who are concerned about friends or relatives who are struggling can also use the 988 advice on helping their loved ones.