T-Mobile has become the first major carrier to bring support for the 988 phone shortcut to get access to free mental health support. The update is a very important one as mental health issues and suicide are more common than ever.
By launching support for 988 today, T-Mobile is more than a year and a half ahead of the July 2022 timeframe that the FCC said US carriers would need to comply with. Particularly amid the pandemic and the holidays, the feature absolutely has the potential to save lives. T-Mobile shared the news in a press release today (via The Verge):
“T-Mobile knows how much our customers depend on us for reliable connectivity and when someone needs access to mental health support, seconds truly matter. Giving our customers a quick connection via 988 to trained mental health care professionals was a priority for us because it could save lives,” said T-Mobile’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Abdul Saad. “Making 988 available to our customers was a matter of urgency for us, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the holiday season approaches. And it’s particularly meaningful to launch this during November as we recognize the contributions and acknowledge the sacrifices of our military veterans. I’m proud that T-Mobile is doing our part to help get this lifesaving tool in the hands of those who will benefit from it.”
T-Mobile customers who dial 988 are connected with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which is comprised of over 180 crisis centers.
Starting today, customers who dial 988 on the T-Mobile network will have free access to approximately 180 crisis centers that offer real-time, lifesaving mental health services from professionally trained counselors.
Recent data shows that millions of Americans struggle with thoughts of suicide and veterans are hit notably harder than most.
As mental health issues rise and suicide rates climb, this critical service couldn’t come quick enough. According to the most recent annual data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15.4 million American adults seriously thought about, made a plan for, or attempted suicide, and suicide claims the lives of over 48,000 annually—one death every 11 minutes. Veterans are hit particularly hard; on average, 17.6 veterans take their own lives every day. And this year the U.S. enters the holiday season with the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, recent research found that one third of Americans – more than ever before – are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression as a result of COVID-19.
The carrier also shared the full phone numbers for the lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line. If you know someone who needs professional mental health support, please share these resources with them.
Anyone who needs help can find it by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats. Veterans and service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, as well as by chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255.