PSA: T-Mobile launches 988 mental health support services hotline
Cut and paste press release follows:
What’s the news: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stressful holiday season and National Veterans and Military Families Month, T-Mobile announced that it is the first major wireless provider to make the 988 emergency lifeline immediately available to its customers. Starting today, customers who dial 988 on the T-Mobile network will have free access to approximately 180 crisis centers that offer real-time, lifesaving mental health services from professionally trained counselors.
Why it matters: Suicide is a national health crisis that leads to one death every 11 minutes. An average of 17.6 of America’s military veterans die by suicide each day and a larger number of people than ever are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The three-digit 988 dial-out makes it easier for Americans in crisis to access the help they need and experts believe it will decrease the stigma surrounding mental health issues longer term.
Who it’s for: Those who recognize that rapid access to suicide prevention and mental health counseling is critical, especially now.
BELLEVUE, Wash. — November 20, 2020 —T-Mobile has once again demonstrated its commitment to getting customers the essential connectivity they need at the most important times. The Un-carrier announced today that it is the first major wireless provider to activate the new nationwide 988-emergency lifeline for customers on the T-Mobile network. Those in need of free mental health support can now get it immediately by dialing 988 to be connected directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a network of approximately 180 local- and state-funded crisis centers.
As mental health issues rise and suicide rates climb, this critical service couldn’t come quick enough. According to the most recent annual data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15.4 million American adults seriously thought about, made a plan for, or attempted suicide, and suicide claims the lives of over 48,000 annually—one death every 11 minutes. Veterans are hit particularly hard; on average, 17.6 veterans take their own lives every day. And this year the U.S. enters the holiday season with the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, recent research found that one third of Americans – more than ever before – are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression as a result of COVID-19.
T-Mobile moved quickly to take necessary measures needed to activate this service for its customers far ahead of the July 2022 deadline established by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year. T-Mobile modified its nationwide network to translate and route 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, updated its billing system to ensure no customer will be charged for using the service and created a bounce-back message so anyone texting 988 on the T-Mobile network will get an immediate response advising them to place a voice call to 988.
“T-Mobile knows how much our customers depend on us for reliable connectivity and when someone needs access to mental health support, seconds truly matter. Giving our customers a quick connection via 988 to trained mental health care professionals was a priority for us because it could save lives,” said T-Mobile’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Abdul Saad. “Making 988 available to our customers was a matter of urgency for us, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the holiday season approaches. And it’s particularly meaningful to launch this during November as we recognize the contributions and acknowledge the sacrifices of our military veterans. I’m proud that T-Mobile is doing our part to help get this lifesaving tool in the hands of those who will benefit from it.”
Anyone who needs help can find it by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats. Veterans and service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, as well as by chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255.