We hear a lot more about mental health than we did even 5 or 10 years ago.

Bad things happen, and mental health is discussed. And that’s probably a good thing.

So is this. A new mental health nationwide hotline goes into effect tomorrow.

The new number is 988. It begins to operate Saturday, July 16 in Maine, and all across the country.

Emotional distress. Mental health crisis. Suicidal thoughts. Dial 988 and you’ll be connected to a trained crisis clinician.

Maine already has a 1 800- number for mental health issues, but this new number, 988, will be easy to remember and can be used locally anywhere in the country.

Using 988 is also expected to bring a reduction in the number of calls to 911 that are mental health related.

Not sure who said it first, but it still rings true.  Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. And the plan for this new national mental health hotline is that professionals will be there to talk callers through their crises and connect them with the available ongoing mental health resources.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health

Hannah Longley the director of community programs at the National Alliance on Mental Health Maine told Maine Public

Studies have shown one in four Mainers struggle with mental health issues. So a simple-to-remember 3-digit number that one could use if they travel too seems like a good start. 988.  Know it and use it if you need to.

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