The US is set to launch a ‘988’ mental health hotline

It's set to be rolled out nationwide next month

The United States is set to introduce a new three-digit dialling code which will connect people to mental health support.

‘988’ is envisaged as the mental health equivalent of 911, and will connect a caller to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via phone and text. It will launch nationally on July 16.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline said: “They will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.”

The Lifeline’s network of over 200 crisis centers has been in operation since 2005. According to its website, “numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counselor.”

Among the musicians who have been throwing their weight behind the initiative is Cat Power, who posted about it on Instagram.

There are concerns, however, about preparations for the roll out of the helpline. A survey conducted by RAND Health Care claimed that half of jurisdictions may not be ready for the launch.

In the UK, meanwhile, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris of New Order appeared in Parliament to discuss mental health and suicide prevention last month, on the day marking 42 years since the death of their bandmate Ian Curtis.

In an event that was originally due to take place in 2020 to mark 40 years since his passing, but was delayed due to the COVID pandemic, a special talk and panel titled Suicide Prevention: Breaking The Silence took place in the Speaker’s House in Parliament.

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