New mental health hotline to be available nationwide soon

DAYTON — 9-8-8 is a three digit mental health hotline number that will go into effect across the country starting Saturday.

People can call or text the hotline 24 hours, 7 days a week if they are going through a mental health crisis but 9-8-8 is not interchangeable with 9-1-1.

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There is already a Suicide Prevention Number, 1-800-273-8255, and that number will remain active.

The 9-8-8 number is supposed to make it easier and faster to receive help by dialing just three digits rather than ten to speak with a trained counselor.

“We have seen different members of the population, thinking about suicide, and in some cases, dying by suicide” Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson, Chief of Prevention at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services tells News Center 7′s Kayla McDermott. “That’s a shift in general to younger people. So that’s terrifying.”

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A mental health crisis is a non-life-threatening situation where help could be offered without needing police or medics.

Some examples include thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, any kind of emotional distress or concern for others.

9-1-1 is for immediate life ending emergencies. This is if police or medics are needed to help stop someone from hurting themselves or someone else, inability to care for oneself or could be out of control.

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It does not mean if you call the hotline a team will not check up on you in person if necessary.

“It could be a social worker, it could be a different kind of counselor,” said Frohnapfel-Hasson. “They may come with a paramedic, depending on the area of the state.”

The Ohio Department of Health says 20% of calls will end in a mobile response.

“They could come with a sheriff’s deputy,“ Fronhapfel-Hasson tells McDermott. “It just depends on what the services are available in a particular community.”

Preparation for this hotline began more than a year ago.