OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline now offers services for those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have hearing loss.

The goal of 988 was to make it easy to access immediate mental health care, but that wasn’t always the case for everyone. This makes the process more inclusive.

Every day, the 988 lifeline is there answering calls for help, now, also, via sign language.

It’s a vital service.

The national 988 lifeline is now providing resources like this to communicate via ASL.

“That’s through our federal partnership with 988, but they can still get help locally if they do want to text us,” said Bonnie Campo with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Research shows those who are deaf or have hearing loss experience higher rates of anxiety and depression.

State mental health officials say it’s important to be able to connect with them in their time of need.

“We are here for you regardless of whatever you think is a barrier to getting help, we’re removing all of those at different levels,” Campo said.

For more information or to access the 988 ASL services online, go to the 988 lifeline website.