This story is published by CBS Austin. See full story and video here.
AUSTIN, Texas — There’s now an easier way to connect with life-saving mental health support. All you have to do is call or text 988.
That’s the new number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which launched over the weekend.
“A three-digit number that looks like 911 and that were making a huge national effort to promote, it really changes the conversation,” said Kate Hix, with The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Central Texas.
Mental health professionals hope the three-digit number will be easier to remember and reach more people in need of mental health resources.
“The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is anticipating there will probably be by end of year, maybe as much as double the amount of calls,” said Jayne Whisnant, area director for the Central Texas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
One place those calls go is to Integral Care. They serve 76 counties, including Travis County.
They’ve been taking calls through the national lifeline since 2012.
“It’s such a great time to focus on mental health. And I think there's always an opportunity to expand our team. And I know that there's an effort to do that,” said practice administrator for Integral Care Nicole Warren.
On average, Integral Care’s team answers between 5-6,000 calls a month. They’re already seeing an uptick since the new number launched Saturday.
“There have been some increases that our team has noticed, said Warren.
NAMI Central Texas says it’s important to talk with someone in your area.
“They have resources locally, but it’s possible if those are full they're rolled over to somewhere else in texas or outside the state,” said Hix.
The transition to 988 comes after a years-long push for more mental health access. However, some experts say more funding is necessary to keep expanding.
“Texas does, unfortunately, have one of the highest abandoned rates and it is because there’s not enough funding to help people get to the resources they need, there’s not enough staff answering the calls, there’s a lot of things funding in itself could help solve the issues,” said Whisnant.
The original number 1-800-273-TALK still connects you to resources.