Maine joins national launch of 988

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July 15, 2022

The 988 Crisis and Suicide Lifeline has been designated nationally as a new, easy-to-remember dialing, texting and chat code for anyone experiencing a suicidal or mental health crisis. Maine is joining other states in preparing to launch the 988 system on July 16, representing a significant step toward strengthening our state mental health crisis response systems. The 988 Lifeline responds 24/7 to calls, chats or texts from anyone who needs support for suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use crisis, and connects those in need with trained crisis counselors. Individuals can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been collaborating with federal, national and statewide partners since March 2021 to plan for successfully implementing the new 988 system in Maine. Over 60 representatives from across the spectrum of Maine’s mental health crisis services – providers; emergency first responders/911, and members of diverse communities such as deaf and hard of hearing, people with lived experience and more – have tackled key issues such as increasing operating capacity at Maine’s 988 call center and the critical connection between 911 and 988 services.

In Maine, calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have been routed to the existing Maine Crisis Line since 2018. With Saturday’s launch of 988, the process remains the same -- only the number is changing. Maine people who call 988 are routed through the Lifeline network based on their area code and connected to a trained crisis specialist at the Maine Crisis Line. Specialists provide therapeutic support and assessment in the moment, and connection to community-based resources such as one of Maine’s regional mobile crisis teams. All 988 callers in Maine continue to be served by local providers. 

The Maine Crisis Line will continue to answer calls, texts and chats to the current 10-digit number (1-888-568-1112) and calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800-273-TALK), as well as answer calls to the 988 Line. Texts and chats to 988 continue to be handled by the national Lifeline support center.  Regardless of which number individuals dial, calls are answered 24/7 with free, confidential help and support for non-English speaking and deaf or hard of hearing callers.

Together with our partners, Maine DHHS looks forward to the launch of 988 and working to ensure a that anyone in crisis has someone to call, someone to respond and a safe place to go for crisis care.