Recognizing the need for more coordinated and comprehensive mental health services in the state, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) rolled out a 10-year plan in 2019. The vision was for a comprehensive statewide mental health system that improves access, integrates mental health and primary care, and focuses on suicide prevention.
The latest addition to New Hampshire’s mental health crisis resources is a three-digit dialing, texting, and chat code – 988. The number became active in mid-July 2022 and is designed to be an easy-to-remember access number similar to other 3-digit response systems such as 911 and 211. By dialing 988, the caller will be connected to a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center matched by originating area code. So, a caller dialing from 603 will be routed to a call center in the 603 region.
Although 988 is considered a “non-emergency” number, it is designed for use by individuals who are experiencing a mental health, suicidal, or substance abuse crisis who want to quickly connect with someone who can talk with them. It can also be used by individuals who have a family member or friend they’re concerned about. 988 also has access to a specialized crisis line for veterans as well as a Spanish speaking network. Also, effective this year, student ID cards for sixth graders to college level students in New Hampshire must include information on accessing 988.
While work is being done to coordinate 988 with 911 when emergency services are warranted, there is another local option for individuals who may need more comprehensive and responsive support –New Hampshire Rapid Response.
NH Rapid Response, launched in January 2022, is based in NH, and also provides phone, text, and chat access to counselors. However, it also offers the option of a mobile crisis team that can be quickly deployed as well as connecting individuals to local resources and appointments when needed. As a dedicated counselor access service, 988 is not intended to replace NH Rapid Response.
If you or a loved one have mental health or substance abuse challenges, knowing where to quickly get help could be the difference between life and death. Both 988 and NH Rapid Response are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To reach NH Rapid Response, you can call or text 1-833-710-6477 or access online chat at www.nh988.com.