Having Mental Health Issues? In ChesCo, Elsewhere Dial 9-8-8

WEST CHESTER PA – Beginning Saturday (July 16, 2022), if you’re anywhere in Chester County and “experiencing mental health-related distress,” pick up the phone and dial 9-8-8. You’ll be immediately connected, county officials said, to local people and crisis assistance services willing to help.

The county is implementing its 9-8-8 mental health emergency hotline as part of the national 9-8-8 Implementation Act approved by Congress earlier this year. “The new 9-8-8 number is considered the 9-1-1 of mental health and substance use issues,” according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Not in Chester County? 9-8-8 will still work, according to the association, but will connect you to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. So will its online chat service, here. It’s a 170-member network of local- and state-funded crisis centers, also prepared to help.

“Moving to the three-digit 9-8-8 phone number gives us the opportunity to strengthen our existing suicide prevention hotline service, and to expand the crisis care system that provides direct, life-saving service for all in need,” county Department of Human Services Director Pat Bokovitz said. The department is also conducting separate brief and anonymous surveys, here, for adults and youths to gather information it will use to improve its services.

A 16-organization planning committee that helped with the 9-8-8 implementation, and which will rely on survey data in the future, included the Chester County Intermediate Unit, and the Phoenixville Community Health Foundation.

Photo by Külli Kittus via Unsplash, used under license