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July 15, 2022
In 2020, congress approved 988 to be designated the new phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The change goes into effect nationwide on July 16, 2022. This lifeline serves more than 180 centers in all 50 states, providing help to those in need.
Mental health moving forward
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that the United States had one death from suicide every 11 minutes and more than 100,000 deaths from drug overdoses in 2020. The shorter code for the lifeline provides more accessibility in emergencies and is available for free, 24/7, for those experiencing mental health crises or distress.
The administration’s goal is to “build a robust crisis care response system across the country that links callers to community-based providers who can deliver a full range of crisis care services,” starting with the lifeline.
Andrea Hickle, a licensed clinical social worker at Apex Benefits, says the lifeline will be a game changer regarding mental health advocacy and crisis management.
“The three-digit number is great because it makes getting help more easily accessible to everyone, especially when someone is calling for themselves or a loved one in a crisis and is not thinking straight.”
988 lifeline as a resource
“I always recommend saving the 1-800 number in phones, but sometimes that’s not feasible. For those who don’t have phones or are out in public, the shortened number helps with the chaos,” said Hickle. “I’m really happy that they passed the legislation for the 988 number, and it will be an even greater resource we can utilize for everyone moving forward.”
Hickle started her journey in social work at Riley Children’s Hospital, focusing on mental health for children and adolescents. “I’ve always had a passion for mental health and suicide prevention throughout my career,” stated Hickle.
“The 988 hotline is a great resource for children and adults, and I’ve received great feedback from those who have utilized it. It’s definitely something we should highlight in hospitals, schools and the workplace for those who may need somebody to talk to or work through a crisis.”
Hickle suggests that employers take steps to promote the new lifeline number in their workplaces and encourage employees to call when in need. It’s important that employees know where to go and feel supported when they’re struggling with poor mental health.
Here are some steps employers should take to support employee mental health:
- Be transparent about Employee Assistance Program (EAP) resources
- Provide information about mental health resources
- Take steps within the workplace to reduce stress and support employee mental health
“It’s been proven and shown that the more a company is open about mental health, the more productive their employees are going to be. We’re going to see fewer employees take FMLA because of mental health emergencies. The key is to approach the topic in a way that is inclusive for everyone, and make it a conversation that encourages people to engage and won’t make them feel targeted.”
Start the mental health conversation in your workplace by downloading the informational flyer below.