As of last week, Santa Clara County residents seeking mental health or substance abuse support can dial 9-8-8 to reach trained counselors capable of helping by phone or in-person. The counselors will be available 24/7 to provide support.
A countrywide push led to similar services being available across America as of July 16. In Santa Clara County, a particular emphasis has been placed on the counselors’ ability to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. In a release, the County said, “The goals of 988 are de-escalation, stabilization, and referral to continued services.” People can call the number for themselves or on behalf of others about whom they’re concerned. Services will be available to address emotional and psychological distress, pertaining to suicidal thoughts, substance use issues, and other challenges.
Said Board of Supervisors President Mike Wasserman, “This new lifeline is part of the County’s ongoing efforts to provide compassionate mental health services in all aspects. By calling 988, people will get connected with services as well as receive immediate help for those experiencing a crisis that could result in harm to themselves or others.”
Notably, law enforcement may or may not be a part of the 988 response, as professionals both inside and outside of law enforcement will be in reach.
Said Sherri Terao, Director of the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department, “The service is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day. If you or a loved one is in crisis, please call 988. We are here to help.”
If in-person dispatch is required, callers will be asked to share their information.
988 calls can be translated into over 200 different languages. When you call, the service tracks your area code, meaning callers with 408, 650, and 669 in their numbers will automatically reach Santa Clara County resources by dialing 988. Callers with other area codes seeking services within Santa Clara County can dial 1-800-704-0900 and then press 1.