We had our very first Live Session this past weekend! Live sessions are a way we try to give back, they are free knowledge sharing sessions with people involved in the mental health space. Last week, we were fortunate enough to be able to meet with a 988 Crisis Counselor. Through this discussion we were able to learn more about 988; things like when you should call, what can you expect when you call and more. First and foremost though, what is 988? 988 is a free suicide prevention and mental health crisis line funded by the government and is for people to call when they need help, support and care. 988 is a huge step forward for mental health resources and prioritization. This week we are going to share what we learned in the live session and hope to empower you all with more knowledge and to feel better about calling. However, trigger warning, words like suicide and crisis will be used throughout this article.
When should you call?
One thing to be very clear about, you do not have to be suicidal to call 988. The hotline serves as a mental health and substance abuse crisis line just as much as it is a suicide crisis line. Further, if you are on the fence or you feel that you are not in a text book definition of “crisis”, you are still absolutely allowed and encouraged to call. You can simply call because you need someone to talk to or if you are looking for additional mental health resources. You can also call if someone you know is going through a crisis, the counselors are trained to assist you on how to approach the tough conversations and provide things you can say.
If you have thoughts of suicide, no matter how small, you are welcome and should call the helpline. These counselors are trained to talk with you and most are volunteers. This means, they genuinely want to help you and they do not have ulterior motives. They are there to listen and assist in any way they can, so please do not feel like you are a burden or that you need to wait until your feelings are unbearable to call. For those who do not like to talk on the phone, you also have the option to text 988! Basically, when in doubt, just call!
What you can expect when you call
When you call in, you will be patched through to a trained counselor who is ready to give you their full attention. 988 partners with over 200 crisis centers to ensure that their lines are ready and available. These counselors are trained through a rigorous program and then they are shadowed on the job to ensure they provide the best care and support. All this to say, you are going to get a competent and trained counselor when you call.
Further, the counselor will ask you some basic questions to try and assess the situation. They may also ask you some demographic based questions, which helps them in their funding and ensuring they have the right resources going forward. As an example, if they get a large number of Spanish callers, then they will fund and find Spanish speaking counselors. The questions are not meant to interrogate you or to try and store information about you personally. Additionally, you can choose to stay anonymous and just talk. If you are in immediate danger, they will try to get your information to get crisis response teams to help you. Ultimately, the goal is to best serve and protect you.
Will the counselor call 911 or send you to the hospital?
The counselor is trained to ensure that you are safe and taken care of, if there is an imminent risk to the caller’s life (namely the suicide attempt is in progress), the counselor will call 911 and work with them to save the callers life. As of now less than 2 percent of calls actually go through 911 as the counselors have been able to help the callers through their conversations. 988’s goal is to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner, the goal is to resolve crisis through the lifeline. All of this to say, the priority is to help the caller on the phone and to not resort to 911 unless absolutely necessary. We view this as paramount as it shows that 988 is not there to just forward you along, but are there to help, serve and care for you.
What are some other Mental Health resources?
In our conversation, our friend the counselor recommended a few different resources for when you are not in immediete crisis. These resources are great to call anytime and can be additional tools in your mental wellness kits. The first is warmlines, these are phone numbers you call to have a conversation with someone who can provide support during hard times. Whether you are in a crisis or just need someone to talk to, a warmline can help. For National Warmlines click here. Another great resource is Your Life Your Voice which has a section for tips & tools like journaling, dealing with a break up, dating and much more, feel free to check them out and use their free resources as you need them!
How can you help?
The 988-crisis line is currently funded by the Federal and State Governments, however, they are also funded by donating to your local participating crisis centers. If you would like to donate you can find participating centers here. Additionally, many of the centers are manned by volunteers. You can absolutely volunteer; from our understanding, most of the work is done remotely so you do not have to be near a local center. Personally, as mental health advocates, we will be taking the next step and volunteering as crisis counselors. Not only to help the public but to also be better for all of you, our dear Tomodotchi family. If you would like to join us, you can find more details here.
Ultimately, 988 is supported by trained counselors who genuinely care. They are not there to simply refer you to 911, the goal is to help resolve your crisis through the phone. You can and should call anytime you need it, the lines are always open and ready for you. They have many resources that they can refer to you, so calling simply to find useful resources is completely valid! We encourage you to call if you ever find yourself curious or needing their services. It’s completely free and always there for you. Disclaimer, our conversation with the counselor was not sponsored by 988, the intent of this article is to provide additional knowledge to empower us all to use 988, whether for ourselves or for our friends who may need it. Always refer and defer to the 988 website for up to date accurate information. Tomodotchi is not affiliated with 988, and just a mental health advocacy brand. If you would like to join future live sessions, join our Facebook group our subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the know. They will always be free and open to you!
988 is a great resource that you should feel free to call anytime you need support. They are there trained and ready to support and provide you great resources. They can and will help you through your crisises.
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As an added bonus for our readers, we like to include a game of where are the Tomodotchi Pets. They’ve been hidden in 2 of the pictures within this post. Can you find them all? See below for what they look like!