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ND HHS recognizes two-year anniversary of 988 Lifeline rollout

ND HHS recognizes two-year anniversary of 988 Lifeline rollout

BISMARCK, ND - North Dakota Health and Human Services (HHS) marks a significant milestone this month as it commemorates the upcoming two-year anniversary of the rollout of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Partnering with FirstLink, North Dakota continues to expand access to critical mental health and crisis intervention services statewide.

Launched on July 16, 2022, the 988 Lifeline provides a vital resource for North Dakotans facing mental health challenges, substance use crises, emotional distress, or thoughts of suicide. Available 24/7 via call, text, or chat at 988Lifeline.org, the service ensures immediate access to Trained crisis counselors who provide compassionate support and guidance.

"In recognizing this anniversary, we reaffirm our commitment to enhancing mental health support and crisis intervention capabilities across North Dakota," said Director of HHS Behavioral Health Division Pamela Sagness, "The stigma surrounding mental health has seen improvement in recent years and we want North Dakotans to know help is available."

Since its inception, the 988 Lifeline has seen a 61% increase in interactions in North Dakota, underscoring its critical role in crisis response. ND HHS Suicide Prevention Administrator Melissa Markegard considers this a testament to the efforts to destigmatize mental health increasing a willingness to seek support; the change from a 1-800 number to the three-digit 988 which is easier to remember; and the expanded text and chat features in addition to calling and speaking directly.

To further bolster these efforts, the HHS Behavioral Health Division has expanded its Mental Health Program Directory, enhancing access to local resources tailored to diverse community needs. This directory, available online, lists comprehensive mental health services by location and specialization, supporting efforts to connect individuals with the care they need promptly.

"Initiatives like the 988 Lifeline and our Mental Health Program Directory are essential," added Sagness. "These resources empower individuals to seek help proactively, fostering stronger, healthier communities statewide."

North Dakotans can call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org/chat if they are having thoughts of suicide, a mental health or substance use crisis, are experiencing emotional distress or if they have concerns for a loved one who may need crisis support. Calls and chats are answered 24-hours a day/seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. Learn more at 988lifeline.org.

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