Saturday, July 16, 2022 was the official launch of a new hotline to help people nationwide get the mental health services they need when in a crisis.

Similar to 911, 988 is designed for people to call when they need mental health help specifically. Of course, people will still be able to call Tri-County Mental Health Services at 816-468-0400 whenever they want to reach us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but dialing 988 will provide a quick and easy way to get help without looking up a local number.

Some people have asked why a separate number is necessary, and there are two main answers.

First, by separating out mental health calls, we can relieve pressure on our 911 system. Additionally, the 911 system is ideal for emergencies that require police, the fire department, or an ambulance, but the system is not specifically designed to help with mental health crises.

When someone is having a mental health crisis, getting help from a trained clinician can make a big difference. In the areas where they have run a pilot program of 988, it has been proven that engaging trained mental health professionals can deliver better long-term outcomes, reduce crimes and emergency room visits.

Northland residents who call 988 will be assisted by a clinically trained helper who will provide assistance. They may be referred to Tri-County, for additional help. In the coming months, mobile crisis teams will join the 988 program and they will be available to go out and help individuals in the community. Counselors will be able to deescalate emergencies by phone and set up follow-up care.

988 will provide a new way for people to find the help they need, not only at Tri-County, but nationwide.