988 Mental Health Lifeline Logo

Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

How is 988 different than 911?

988 was established to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets our country’s growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs. 988 will provide easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources, which are distinct from the public safety purposes of 911 (where the focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire and police as needed).

Will police or EMS show up?

The primary goal of the Lifeline is to provide support for people in crisis when they need it most.

Most people seeking help from the Lifeline don’t need the help of first responders. Fewer than 2% of Lifeline calls require connection to emergency services like 911. While some safety and health issues may warrant a response from law enforcement and/or Emergency Medical Services (namely when a suicide attempt is in progress), the 988 coordinated response is meant to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive or invasive manner.

Will my privacy be protected?

People contacting 988 are not required to provide any personal data to receive services. SAMHSA recognizes the importance and the expectation of privacy when a person contacts 988. The network system has several safeguards to address concerns about privacy.

Any effort to obtain demographic information from those who use 988 will serve three primary purposes: 1) to save lives; 2) to connect people to ongoing supports; and 3) to evaluate system needs and performance, particularly ensuring that gaps and inequities are being addressed.

How is 988 funded? Who operates it?

For bigger questions visit The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.

Will I be hospitalized if I call 988?

The majority of people get the help they need with a single phone call or a conversation with 988’s mobile crisis team. But everyone’s mental health journey is different. A small number of people experiencing severe crises will require additional care in a hospital setting for the safety of themselves and those around them.

How is an Urgent Recovery Center and Crisis Stabilization Unit different from an emergency room?

While emergency departments tend to a variety of physical and emotional emergencies, Urgent Recovery Centers and Crisis Stabilization Units are specifically prepared to help people experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. Some services they might offer include individual and group rehabilitation, counseling, medically supervised detox, psychiatric emergency intervention, and inpatient care.

Do I have to call 988 to get help from an Urgent Recovery Center and Crisis Stabilization Unit?

No. Your local Urgent Recovery Centers and Crisis Stabilization Units accept all walk-ins, much like an emergency room. To find your closest center, click here.

I’m not suicidal. Should I still call 988?

Yes. 988 is for all Oklahomans and can connect anyone who needs mental health support, 24/7. Some of the reasons people call include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, domestic violence, relationship and family problems, self harm, suicidal thoughts, paranoia and psychosis, emotional distress, financial stress, stress surrounding sexual orientation, loneliness, and more.

What do I do if i’m experiencing a mental health crisis?

If you are feeling depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, or suicidal, call or text 988. An operator will listen to what’s going on, talk you through next steps, and connect you the specific type of help you need. Depending on your situation, that may look like a therapist recommendation, self-care resources, or if appropriate, connection with an Urgent Recovery Center and Crisis Stabilization Unit.

90% of people get what they need with one simple phone call.

Multiple studies have shown that callers to lifelines like 988 are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, experience less suicidal thoughts, and feel more hopeful after speaking with an operator.

What do I do if I’m witnessing a mental health crisis?

988 can be used to get help for yourself or to learn how to help a loved one or community member in distress. However, if a person is an immediate life-threatening danger to themselves or to others, call 911.

If you are needing guidance on how to be there for a loved one, a 988 operator can connect you with resources to care for your loved one the best you can. However, if you believe your loved one needs help you cannot provide, 988 works best when the person in need has requested or consented to receiving help.

If you witness a community member experiencing a mental health crisis — and they agree to receive help — call or text 988 as well. For situations like these, there are plans to offer on-the-scene help from mental health professionals in the form of mobile crisis teams. As 988’s reach further rolls out over the coming months, more mobile crisis teams will be added across the state.

How can I spot signs that someone I know might be considering suicide?

While everyone’s reaction to mental health struggles is different, there are many warning signs and symptoms that might suggest a person you know is at risk for suicide — especially if behaviors are new, are happening more often, or seem linked to a painful event, loss, or life change.

Some behaviors to watch for include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Researching ways to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

If you are concerned that someone you know or love is considering ending their life, 988 can help. Call or text any time to get connected with a local operator, who can connect your resources and guide you on how to safely help the situation.

For more information, visit the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Where are 988 counselors located?

When you call 988, you will be routed to a call center based on the area code of the phone from which you are calling. If the area code is 405, 580, 918, or 539, you will be connected to a crisis counselor based in Oklahoma. If the area code is for another state but you would like access to Oklahoma resources, you can request that you be transferred to Oklahoma’s 988 call center.

When you text 988, the same area code designation applies on a nationally structured availability system. You will be connected to a crisis counselor based in Oklahoma or a licensed professional based nationally if an Oklahoma staff member is unavailable. This process makes sure no texts go unanswered for those in crisis.

Are 988 counselors available 24/7?

The 988 Mental Health Lifeline is staffed by trained crisis counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There is always a crisis counselor available no matter the time of day, day of the week, or if it is a holiday.

How else can I contact 988?

The national 988 Lifeline has an online chat, a Veterans Crisis online chat, and an ASL video chat for those that are deaf or hard of hearing. More information on these services can be found at 988lifeline.org.

Got Questions? Ask Away.
Curious about 988? Our team is happy to answer any questions you may have.