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Here's what to expect when calling 9-8-8, the new mental health crisis hotline number

Torsten Dettlaff

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For those who are having a mental health crisis or have a family member or friend who is, they can receive support through the 9-8-8 mental health crisis hotline. The call is free, confidential and available 24 hours. The number replaces the national 800-273-8255 number.

Deanna Cada, the director of the DeKalb County Community Mental Health board, said there are caring trained person on the other line who are there to listen and offer hope.

“So that 9-8-8 is there for people just to call when they're thinking, you know, I'm not sure I'm gonna get through today,” Cada said. “And there'll be somebody there to help them, remind them, assist them in how they can get through that day, because tomorrow could be a heck of a lot better than today.”

When a person calls the number, they will go through several automated questions, including whether they are a veteran and their language preference. Then, the caller will be routed to a live person who is a certified crisis worker. A caller may be placed on hold from one to three minutes until they reach a person.

“It's just like calling a non-judgmental friend is calling somebody who they're there to support you,” she said. “And whatever you need, they're not going to ask you questions you don't want to answer, they're not going to force you to do something you don't want to do, they are going to ensure you're safe, because that's the number one thing.”

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health crisis, call 9-8-8.

Leer en español

A Chicago native, Maria earned a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield . Maria is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America. RFA is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization. Un residente nativo de Chicago, Maria se graduó de University of Illinois Springfield con una licenciatura superior en periodismo de gobierno.