988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number brings additional access to mental health help in Alabama

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 6:30 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - On July 16, the national three-digit phone number for mental health access, 988, went live.

The Crisis Center Birmingham is one of two call centers in the state answering lifeline calls.

Executive Director of the Crisis Center Birmingham, Meg McGlamery, said when someone calls, they reach a trained professional, ready to help.

“They’re able to assess what’s going on, listen to the person, and determine next steps,” said McGlamery.

The suicide and crisis lifeline is a prevention tool. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis is welcome to call.

“It’s a number that is memorable it’s easy to share and hopefully more people will feel comfortable reaching out for help,” said McGlamery.

McGlamery said while the change to the number is exciting, it’s just the first step toward easier access.

“We need more things in Alabama, no doubt about it. Starting with more crisis centers.”

The Alabama Department of Mental Health is currently expanding the number of call centers in the state from two to eight.

“80% of the calls from the national prevention lifeline are resolved with just the call, with just a connection between the person and the crisis counselor,” said Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Kimberly Boswell. “The other 20% may need something else. They may need someone else to come to them or to visit a Crisis Center.”

Prior to the 988 launch, the Crisis Center received grant funding to hire nine staff members to help answer calls.

“That way we’re really staffed up. So we have multiple people here to add to our already existing staff and volunteers,” said McGlamery.

While the 988 number is shorter, the 1-800-273-8255 number is still active.

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