Mental health and substance use crisis services for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Beginning this summer, 9-8-8 will be the new, easy-to-remember phone number for the National Suicide Prevention and Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline. Calls to the line will go to trained counselors at local crisis call centers who can provide free, confidential advice and emotional support for people in distress, 27/7, 365 days a year. Maryland has eight call centers and individuals will be directed to the center closest to them and can be accessed via phone, text or chat. Counselors can then help connect people to their local community mental health and substance use services at moments of crisis.
9-8-8 was created thanks to the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, passed by Congress in 2020. This shortened the longer, 8 digit number to the National Suicide Hotline to a simple, easy to remember 3 digit number that will connect people with support anywhere in the country. All states within the U.S. were required to transition to the new number within a two year period. In Maryland, 988 will go into effect on July 16, 2022.
In order to support the cost of this initiative, Maryland established the
9-8-8 Fund. During the 2022 General Assembly, a law was presented and Governor Hogan signed legislation that would assure ongoing funding. Ths law established a 988 Trust Fund, designated $5 million for local helplines in 2022 with deposits of $5.5 million into the trust earmarked for 2023.
Benefits of the new 9-8-8 number:
· Individuals will now have better access to equitable, timely, and effective mental health and substance use care, including behavioral health crisis care.
· Eliminating the wait (often hours, or even days) of those who go to hospital emergency rooms for mental health and substance use crises by connecting them directly with services they are in need of.
· Helping to reduce the over reliance on law enforcement for responding to behavioral health crises.
For more information on the new 9-8-8 crisis hotline in Maryland please visit