State News

New 988 phone line for mental health crisis support is live

Vermont launched the 9-8-8 suicide and crisis lifeline on July 16. Callers will be immediately connected to compassionate, caring counselors who are trained to provide support for individuals experiencing everything from emotional distress to a mental health crisis. While they are trained to treat and address suicidality, it is not only for those individuals in crisis.

The 9-8-8 lifeline is also not only for those experiencing challenges with their own mental health. If you are the family member, loved one or friend of someone whom you believe might need help, counselors are trained and ready to answer your call.

Beginning July 16, people can access the lifeline by calling 9-8-8. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.

The Vermont Department of Mental Health (DMH) has been working since 2019 with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Vibrant Emotional Health to build and bolster in-state lifeline call centers in preparation for the transition to 9-8-8.

“When we started this process over two years ago, Vermonters who called the lifeline were routed to call centers in nearby states,” said DMH Deputy Commissioner Alison Krompf, the department’s statewide lead on suicide prevention. “Now we have Vermonters who are trained and ready to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These are caring professionals who want to help.”

The Veterans Crisis Line remains available by calling 9-8-8 and pressing one. Callers who speak Spanish can press two, and the national system provides interpretation services for over 150 additional languages.

“We have a strong system of care with many supports available,” said DMH Commissioner Emily Hawes. “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.”

Vermonters can also text “VT” to 741741 to get help and dial or text 833-888-2557 to connect with peer support through Pathways Vermont.

These services were detailed at Gov. Phil Scott’s press conference on Tuesday, July 12, where state officials and a mental health provider discussed the impacts of the pandemic and world events on the mental health and well-being of Vermonters. “What I hope Vermonters take away from this discussion is: It’s okay to not feel okay. Because you’re not alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in getting some help or just taking some time to care for yourself. I also want people to know there is still a lot of good out there, and there is always reason for hope,” Scott said.

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