According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among preteens and adults aged 25 to 34. That is just one reason why the US recently relaunched the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline with a shorted dialing code – 988.
Similar to dialing 911 for medical emergencies, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (Lifeline) is a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress, including thoughts of suicide, substance use, or other emotional struggles. Callers will be connected immediately to trained counselors who will listen, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.
The Lifeline can also be used by anyone who is worried about a loved one who may need emergency support.
The three-digit dialing code is new, but the Lifeline is not. Previously, callers only reached the 24/7 national crisis hotline by dialing 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). The easy-to-remember dialing code (988) is meant to replace that number; however, callers will still be connected to the same services, regardless of which number is used. The Lifeline provides services in both English and Spanish.
Since 2005, the Lifeline has been a network of roughly 200 crisis centers funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Since its founding, the Lifeline has received more than 20 million calls from people in distress looking for help when they needed it most. Nearly 2.4 million calls occurred in 2020 alone, illustrating America’s current mental health crisis.
Mental Health and the Workplace
A study conducted by Mind Share Partners’, in partnership with Qualtrics and ServiceNow, compared the state of mental health and workplace culture in U.S. Their 2021 Mental Health at Work Report concluded that there were several correlations between mental health and workplace wellbeing. Below are some of their key findings:
- Employee Retention: Sixty-eight percent of Millennials and 81% of Gen Zers switched jobs in 2020, citing mental health reasons as a key factor in their decision-making process. In addition, 91% of survey respondents believed that an organization should support mental health initiatives, up from 86% from the previous year.
- Increased Symptoms: Seventy-six percent of respondents reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition in 2020, up from 59%.
- Improved Transparency: Finally, almost 66% of respondents talked about their mental health to a coworker in 2020. This finding highlights the reduced stigma around mental health and wellbeing and could result in a higher probability that an employee would be willing to seek treatment if desired. That said, only 49% of respondents described their experience of talking about mental health at work as positive.
Organization’s Response to Mental Health
Mind Share Partners’ research also noted that 54% of survey respondents believed that mental health was prioritized in their organization. In addition, 47% of respondents believed that organizational leaders were advocates for mental health training and discussions.
However, the added awareness didn’t necessarily translate into improved mental health treatment options. There was a 5% decline in respondents who felt comfortable supporting a coworker with their mental health and a similar percentage decrease with regards to understanding the procedures around receiving support for mental health at work.
Making Your Small but Meaningful Impact
Many experts are seeing societal shifts around the way organizations acknowledge and address employee mental health and wellbeing. Just as we know to call 911 in a medical emergency, it’s equally important to spread the word about the dial code 988. Sharing the new number could have as great of an impact as checking in with your coworkers by making the time to ask the question, “How are you?”