​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​988: The New Way to Connect to Behavioral Health Crisis Services

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Maryland has a new way to connect to local behavioral health crisis services. 

Calling 988 will connect callers directly to the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline which encompasses all behavioral crisis services, to include all mental health and substance use (problems with drug and alcohol use).

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline replaces the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline AND expands services to cover all behavioral health crisis services. Access and share this flyer about 988 in Maryland.


What does this mean for Marylanders? 

When someone in Maryland calls 988, it will be routed to one of the state’s eight call centers. These centers provide phone-based support and information regarding local resources. Marylanders can also text 988.


Maryland has been operating its own crisis hotline, 211 press 1, and that number will remain in operation and accessible to Marylanders throughout the transition period and beyond.

Who can call 988?

Anyone in need of assistance with behavioral health related needs can call 988. 

The new 988 feature is available nationwide for call (multiple languages), text or chat (English only). Both “211, press 1” and the existing Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will remain available throughout the transition period and beyond.



What can you expect when calling 988?

  • Callers will hear a greeting message while their call is routed to the Maryland Lifeline network crisis center (based on the caller’s area code) 
  • A trained call specialist will answer the phone, listen to the caller, understand how their problem is affecting them, provide support, and share resources if needed 
  • If the Maryland crisis center is unable to take th​e call, the caller will be automatically routed to a national backup crisis center 
  • The Lifeline provides live crisis center phone services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 150 additional languages for people who call 988

How does 988 help Marylanders?

988 call specialists located at crisis call centers around Maryland can immediately provide phone-based support and connections to local resources.

By directing cases to 988 when a behavioral health crisis (mental health and substance use) isn't life threatening, the response provided by public services, such as law enforcement and EMS, can be reserved for situations in which lives are endangered.

In 2020, Congress designated the new 988 calling code to be operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​. The ​Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sees 988 as a first step towards a transformed crisis care system in America.​​

 SAMHSA’s 988 Resources