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County of Santa Clara Launches 988 Phone Number Dedicated to Crisis Mental Health Services

The lifeline, similar to 911, is staffed 24 hours a day, every day, and provides compassionate support to those having a mental health or substance use crisis

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara has launched a lifeline phone number for people to call in times of mental health or substance use crisis, with teams of trained counselors available 24/7 to offer support by phone or an in-person response, depending on the nature of the situation.

The lifeline – reached by dialing 9-8-8 – is the result of a push to make similar crisis and suicide prevention services available across the country starting July 16, 2022. The County of Santa Clara’s 988 operation includes an array of mental health services designed to de-escalate crisis situations.

“This new lifeline is part of the County’s ongoing efforts to provide compassionate mental health services in all aspects,” said Board of Supervisors President Mike Wasserman. “By calling 988, people will get connected with services as well as receive immediate help for those experiencing a crisis that could result in harm to themselves or others.”

The County’s new lifeline is designed to provide support for those experiencing emotional or mental health distress, including thoughts of suicide, fearfulness, or other mental health or substance use crises. Loved ones and others can also call 988 if they are concerned for someone else.

The lifeline will also serve as a connection point for County Behavioral Health Services and community-based organizations. The various onsite mobile response teams are made up of crisis clinicians and peer outreach specialists; services that both involve or do not involve law enforcement are available. The goals of 988 are de-escalation, stabilization, and referral to continued services.

“988 is easy to remember, making it simple for people facing a mental health crisis or thinking about suicide to get the help they need,” said Sherri Terao, Director of the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department. “When you call 988, trained crisis counselors will answer and give you compassionate support. The service is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day. If you or a loved one is in crisis, please call 988. We are here to help.”

County Behavioral Health Services staff are thoroughly trained on the new system, and the 988 line went live in a soft launch in May. The service is free, anonymous, and confidential, with no information shared unless in-person dispatch is required. Language interpretation is available in more than 200 languages. Calls to 988 are routed by area code; if the phone used does not have a 408, 650 or 669 area code, the Santa Clara County service can be accessed by calling 1-800-704-0900 and pressing 1. The same 800 number can be used for non-emergency calls to County Behavioral Health Services regarding general mental health and substance use treatment services information and referrals.



The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.


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Media Contact: Quan Vu / Eric Kurhi,  Office of Communications and Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]; Joy Alexiou, County of Santa Clara Health System
(408) 885-4164, [email protected]


Posted: July 15, 2022