The primary focus of Tuesday, July 12's Governors Press Conference was mental health, specifically the new 988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline that goes live on Saturday, July 16, with a clear message: "You are not alone."

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Vermont has been gearing up for this replacement to the National Suicide Hotline for over two years. 

Here are the details.

On July 16, 988 will become the national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Americans needing support should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) until then.

The new 988 number, once implemented, will continue to be America's mental health safety net by providing emotional support for people in distress, reducing suicides and mental health crises, and providing a pathway to well-being for all.

The Vermont Department of Health's press release states that 988 represents a long past due opportunity to shift from a law enforcement and justice system response to one of immediately connecting to care for individuals in suicidal, mental health, and substance use crises. 

The number is the first step to shift how people in crisis are engaged in our communities. When you've got a police, fire, or rescue emergency, you call 911. When you have an urgent mental health need, you'll call 988.

About the Lifeline 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across the United States.

You do not have to be suicidal to call. Trained crisis workers answer all calls to the Lifeline at over 180 local crisis centers around the country.

The Lifeline received nearly 2.4 million calls in 2020. With an easy-to-remember and dial number like 988, the Lifeline hopes to reach many more people in emotional crises.

The 988 program provided grants to 50 U.S. states and territories, including Vermont, to help them transition to the new program.