OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – Since launching in July 2022, the 988 Mental Health Lifeline providing mental health support has received tens of thousands of calls.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS), the lifeline has received 39,831 calls in its first year.

“The 988 Mental Health Lifeline represents a significant advancement of mental health services within the state,” ODMHSAS Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges said. “With the implementation of this three-digit lifeline, more Oklahomans have timely access to the essential services for their well-being. It’s inspiring to see many Oklahomans taking advantage of the mental health resources available to them.”

ODMHSAS says the three-digit number gets more call 3,000 calls a month in the state. Any Oklahoman can call or text 988 if they are in a mental health emergency, looking for guidance during a mental health situation, in need of resources regarding substance use or looking to help a family member or friend.

According to officials, around 300,000 Oklahomans report having a substance abuse disorder and about 300 Oklahomans are admitted for urgent care or crisis mental health services each year.

In 2023, 4.1% of adults in Oklahoma had serious thoughts of suicide, with one in 10 students reporting attempting suicide in the past year.

“988 is for all Oklahomans who need mental health support, 24/7. An operator will listen to what’s going on, talk through next steps and connect the caller with the specific type of help they need. Depending on the situation, that could be a therapist recommendation, self-care resources or a connection with an Urgent Care and Crisis Center.” Slatton-Hodges stated.

ODMHSAS say each time someone reaches out to 988, free and confidential help is on the other end of the line in both English and Spanish. Operators are Oklahomans trained to provide support or dispatch mobile crisis teams if the situation requires in-person assistance. 

Callers are connected to a mental health professional to talk through what’s going on and get the resources needed for either themselves or their loved one. Around 90% of the time, things can get figured out over the phone. But if more assistance is needed, dispatchers or mobile crisis teams can set up appointments at nearby Urgent Care and Crisis Centers for those who need to see a trained specialist. If this is the case, transportation will be provided to help those in need arrive safely at an Urgent Care and Crisis Center, officials say.

“In Oklahoma, 988 is more than just a call center. We have established the country’s most comprehensive crisis response continuum and can see the substantial impact it is having on Oklahomans reaching out in moments of distress or crisis,” Commissioner Slatton-Hodges continued.

For more information, visit 988Oklahoma.com.