HONOLULU (KHON2) — The United States’ first nationwide three-digit mental health crisis hotline goes live on Saturday, July 16. 

Like dialing 911 for emergency services, it is designed to be easy to use and likely remembered. However, instead of a police dispatcher picking up the phone to assist you it will be a trained mental health counselor instead.

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The number to dial is 9-8-8 and it’s meant to quickly help those dealing with suicidal thoughts and other mental health emergencies. 

The federal government has provided more than $280 million to help states create systems that will do much more.

Some examples are mobile mental health crisis teams that can be sent to people’s homes and emergency mental health centers that can mirror an urgent care clinic but instead treat mental health disorders. 

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, adopting the new three-digit number could increase access to its Hawaii CARES crisis helpline.

This helpline provides free confidential support 24/7 for mental health or substance use-related distress.
Hawaii CARES is organized by the DOH with support from Aloha United Way and CARE Hawaii.

Individuals may contact Hawaii CARES at 808-832-3100 or 800-753-6879, or use its chat function.

Anyone with an 808-area code number can be connected with Hawaii CARES crisis line by dialing 988.

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However, others with a different area code will be connected to a crisis center in another state.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.