How 988 will change America’s approach to mental health

America is about to take a big step towards better health care.

Starting July 16, anyone in the US, anywhere in the US, simply dials a three-digit number – 988 – for free, confidential and immediate help with a case. mental health emergency.

Now the two of us could be a quirky couple working together to talk about mental health:

One of us is a leading mental health campaigner — an unlikely career, but someone he discovered through a commitment to service helped him heal the wounds he had suffered. he went through after his father, an entertainer Robin Williamsdied by suicide.

The other is a Marine veteran who became the first sitting U.S. Congressman to share his struggles with post-traumatic stress, the result of several combat tours in Iraq. , and later the author of the statute establishing 988.

As an entrepreneur and mental health-focused advocate and a veteran of the Marines, we come from very different backgrounds and we spend our days in different ways. very different. But we both have profound experiences with mental illness, like so many other Americans.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly half of the 60 million adults and children living with mental health conditions in the United States do not receive treatment. Imagine if half of Americans with broken legs never got treatment.

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There are two basic reasons why many Americans don’t talk about mental health issues: They are afraid or frustrated with getting help, or they simply don’t know how to get it.

Now, with the 988, there are two simple steps we can all take to tackle these twin challenges.

First: It takes more people to share their stories.

One thing we’ve learned is that simply talking about mental health is the single most important first step we can all take.

One of the myths about mental health is the idea that talking about something like depression will make it worse, but research shows the opposite. The majority of people call a lifebuoy are more likely to feel relief and hope after talking to someone.

It is also recorded that the majority of people who attempt suicide and survive, do not end up dying by committing suicide at a later date. In other words, they regret even trying. Imagine if people so unlucky had taken that moment to dial in for help.

We’re sharing our stories to encourage you to share yours — talk about mental health with your friends and family, and make taking care of it a habit. annual health check-up.

There is strength in vulnerability. Simply put, the more we talk about this, the better.

Second: Help us make sure everyone knows 9-8-8.

People already know to call 911 if your house burns down; You don’t have to Google the fire department in the middle of the night! Being able to dial a three-digit number when you’re having a mental health emergency will be as natural as dialing 911.

For every person who dies by suicide, 316 people seriously consider it. That is more than 13 million people who seriously consider their lives, but only about two millions call the existing ten-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

There’s a lot of work to be done to ensure that every American is aware of 9-8-8 and ready to reach out if they need to. Over the coming weeks and months, help us spread the word.

By now you should know a thing or two about how this will all work.

When you call 988, you’ll be connected to the best resources available to address your specific needs. Veterans, for example, about 1½ times more likely to die by suicide than non-translators. They should talk to other veterans or people with special training to meet their unique challenges.

You should also know that all calls to 988 are completely confidential. No one will send anyone to your door unless you ask. Experience shows that simply speaking to a trained professional saves thousands of lives each year.

There’s one last thing to keep in mind as we launch this new service: There are bound to be some hiccups and we’d love your feedback on how to improve 988. Just having an activity number saves lives. thousand people — every year in the United States, many people die from Suicide than in car accidents.

A call to 988 when you or a loved one is in crisis can save a life. Talking about mental health on the dinner table can save even more. We need more Americans to realize that having a mental illness is like breaking a leg: you need help, and if you do, you’ll get better. Help us share this powerful truth across the country.

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