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5 July, 2022.

The Family Counseling Center Promotes New National 988 Dialing Code for Suicide and Crisis Prevention

The Family Counseling Center of Fulton County, along with mental and behavioral health facilities across the country, are preparing for the launch of the 988 dialing code, a direct and easy access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Similar to 911, the 988 dialing code will connect callers to over 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers across the country. On July 16, 2022, the U.S. will transition to using the 988 dialing code, strengthening and expanding the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Callers will be connected to compassionate, accessible care and support when experiencing any mental health related distress – whether that is thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

Across the country, mental health organizations, local police departments, emergency rooms, and school are seeing a dramatic increase in mental health crisis incidents. The 988 dialing code is a first-step toward strengthening and transforming crisis care in the county. 988 will serve as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released numbers regarding Mental Health Care Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The timeframe covered up until September 2021 and notes that over one-third of Americans live in areas lacking mental health professionals. Nationally, 6,398 mental health providers are needed to fill the gap with areas of highest need being rural or partially rural communities like Fulton County and others in the Capital District.

“W are excited to promote and support the rollout of the new national 988 dialing code,” said Michael Countryman, Executive Director at The Family Counseling Center. “Our Crisis Unit works daily to support those in a moment of mental health crisis. The Crisis Unit is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and we have a 24-Hour Crisis Hotline as well, but to be able to reach and support community members 24-hours a day, every day including holidays and weekends through 988 is an amazing opportunity to meet the needs, provide the guidance, and assist individuals in crisis.”