Beginning July 16, people can access the Lifeline by calling 9-8-8. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential. The Vermont Department of Mental Health (DMH) has been working since 2019 with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Vibrant Emotional Health to build and bolster in-state Lifeline call centers in preparation for the transition to 9-8-8.
Massachusetts Business Magazine Vermont is introducing the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline as of July 16. Callers will be linked right away to sympathetic, caring counsellors who have been trained to offer help to people going through everything from emotional distress to a mental health crisis. Although they have received training in dealing with suicidality, they do not simply help those who are in crisis. The 9-8-8 Lifeline is available to everyone, not only those who are having problems with their own mental health. Counselors are prepared to take your call if you are a family member, loved one, or acquaintance of someone you think might need assistance.
“When we started this process over two years ago, Vermonters who called the Lifeline were routed to call centers in nearby states,” said DMH Deputy Commissioner Alison Krompf, the department’s statewide lead on suicide prevention. “Now we have Vermonters who are trained and ready to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These are caring professionals who want to help.” The Veterans Crisis Line remains available by calling 9-8-8 and pressing 1. Callers who speak Spanish can press 2, and the national system provides interpretation services for over 150 additional languages.
These services were detailed at Governor Scott’s press conference on Tuesday, where state officials and a mental health provider discussed the impacts of the pandemic and world events on the mental health and well-being of Vermonters. Governor Scott said, “What I hope Vermonters take away from this discussion is: It’s okay to not feel okay. Because you’re not alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in getting some help or just taking some time to care for yourself. I also want people to know there is still a lot of good out there, and there is always reason for hope.”
“We have a strong system of care with many supports available,” said DMH Commissioner Emily Hawes. “The transition to 9-8-8 is another step forward in the path to providing accessible, low barrier supports for all Vermonters who need help.” Vermonters can also text “VT” to 741741 to get help and dial or text 833-888-2557 to connect with peer support through Pathways Vermont.