In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State is now offering a new mental health crisis helpline number.

The number went into effect this past Saturday and anyone who needs some help with a mental health issue can call The National Suicide lifeline at 988.

When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.

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According to their website, 988 and the National Suicide Prevention lifeline has over 200 crisis centers that have been in operation since 2005.

The current number for the National Suicide Prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255) will always remain open and active for people to call as well.

Calls to 988 are free and confidential and counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Upgrading the helpline to 988 will now allow people to call, text, or chat with a counselor. Before the only way, people could reach the helpline was to call in. With more options to contact help services, officials are hoping that more people will take advantage of the help that is available to them.

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