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New mental health hotline now available to help San Diegans

As of now, callers to the nationwide suicide prevention hotline need to dial a toll-free 800-number. At the call center in Greenville, South Carolina, calls come in from all over the state.
Posted at 6:52 AM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 09:52:37-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The County of San Diego is hoping that a new mental health hotline can be a vital resource for anyone in need.

“This is a really big deal,” said Dr. Luke Bergmann, the director of Behavioral Health Services for San Diego County.

Bergmann said the 988 hotline is a cultural milestone to behavioral health care.

“What the transition to 988 does is coordinate all of those systems together and make them all accessible to people across the country,” Bergmann said.

How it works is that if you call 988 from a phone with a San Diego area code, you’ll be connected to a San Diego crisis response resource.

“What’s really important about that this service across the country really by design is meant to offer immediate crisis stabilization and de-escalation response,” Bergmann said. “So, you are talking to a live person in real time who can be helpful to you.”

The county’s already seeing people call for that help.

“The first Saturday that 988 went live, we saw relative to the previous Saturday — a full doubling of call volume,” Bergmann said. “The rate of abandoned calls within a 45 second period actually went down.”

The 988 line is also meant to give people access to ongoing care.

There’s hope this three-digit number can help San Diegans get help before things get a particular point.

“There were some concerns about whether even with that we’d be able to be responsive to an increased volume with 988. What is showing up in very early data we’ve been very responsive; really, I think meeting the needs of the community thus far,” Bergmann said.