NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The Louisiana Department of Health is reminding people that the 988 helpline is available year-round as a lifeline for those experiencing mental health crises or emotional distress.

Operating 24/7, the 988 helpline ensures immediate access to trained professionals. Since its launch in July 2022, the service has answered over 26,000 calls in Louisiana alone. The effort has propelled the call answer rate from 64% to an average of 87%. The introduction of text and chat services in December 2022 further expanded the helpline’s reach.

LDH’s ongoing campaign, launched amid Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, promotes the 988 helpline. They sought input from high-risk groups, including people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals, and suicide loss survivors, to tailor Louisiana-centric campaign materials. 

LDH Secretary Stephen Russo underlines the campaign’s intent to address barriers to seeking care “and encourage Louisiana residents to reach out whether they are in a mental health crisis or just having a bad day.” 

Robin Thomas, LDH’s Suicide Prevention Coordinator, emphasized the human touch behind the 988 helpline. The campaign underscores the compassionate and qualified operators ready to assist callers, reflecting a heartfelt commitment to reducing the stigma around seeking mental health help.

In a mental health crisis, reaching out for help is vital. The 988 helpline can be a significant step in navigating the path to necessary support. You can call or text 988 or chat with a crisis counselor via the 988 Lifeline website.

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