When to refer a client or consumer to 988
988 is available 24/7 for anyone. Your clients can reach out to 988 at any time to be connected to a volunteer or call taker on staff who can provide emotional support and compassionate listening, especially for those who are feeling isolated, may be experiencing a mental health crisis, or are worried about increasing distress or worry.
988 does not replace an existing therapeutic service or relationship but can be an additional support outside of your organization’s scheduled appointments or service hours. 988 call takers are not licensed clinicians, but they are highly-trained staff and volunteers with extensive experience in providing non-judgmental, compassionate support to people in emotional distress and suicide and crisis intervention.
- If your client is in immediate need of mobile crisis intervention, call 1-877-382-1609, anytime, day or night. For more information visit Mass Partnership.
- Those who are deaf or hard of hearing may use the online chat function or TTY users may use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255. Additional information: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline services for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Language translation services are also available to all callers, specifically the Spanish Language Line can be accessed by pressing 2 after dialing. Additional information: Spanish Language services.
- Service Members, Veterans, and their Families may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, as well as by chatting online at veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255.
- LGBTQ youth may also use the Trevor Lifeline by calling 1-866-488-7386 or texting 678-678 to access information and support for LGBTQ youth.
What your client can expect when they call 988
Calls will be routed to a call center based on a caller’s area code. Lifeline specialists are ready to take their call, and can provide compassionate, non-judgmental support. Although the number is shorter, it will still connect to the same service which has been available in Massachusetts for many years.
Note: If your client’s phone number has an area code from another state, their call will be directed to that state’s Lifeline specialists. Those specialists will provide the same support as Massachusetts specialists and can connect them to 911 in their area if needed, but will not be able to connect to other local services.
How to order or download shareable materials
Looking for Flyers or handouts to share within your organization about 988? The SAMHSA Store has flyers, wallet cards, and factsheets available for your use. Most are available in English and Spanish and are free of charge. Visit store.samhsa.gov for all available products.