Santa Clara County has launched a lifeline phone number for people to call in times of mental health or substance use crisis, with teams of trained counselors available 24/7 to offer support by phone or in-person, depending on the nature of the situation.
The lifeline – reached by dialing 9-8-8 – is the result of a push to make similar crisis and suicide prevention services available across the country starting July 16, 2022. The County of Santa Clara’s 988 operation includes an array of mental health services designed to de-escalate crisis situations.
The County’s new lifeline is designed to provide support for those experiencing emotional or mental health distress, including thoughts of suicide, fearfulness, or other mental health or substance use crises. Loved ones and others can also call 988 if they are concerned for someone else. The lifeline will also serve as a connection point for County Behavioral Health Services and community-based organizations. The various onsite mobile response teams are made up of crisis clinicians and peer outreach specialists; services that both involve or do not involve law enforcement are available. The goals of 988 are de-escalation, stabilization, and referral to continued services.
County Behavioral Health Services staff are thoroughly trained on the new system, and the 988 line went live in a soft launch in May. The service is free, anonymous, and confidential, with no information shared unless in-person dispatch is required. Language interpretation is available in more than 200 languages. Calls to 988 are routed by area code; if the phone used does not have a 408, 650 or 669 area code, the Santa Clara County service can be accessed by calling 1-800-704-0900 and pressing 1. The same 800 number can be used for non-emergency calls to County Behavioral Health Services regarding general mental health and substance use treatment services information and referrals.