What’s the news: Since November 2020, T-Mobile customers have been able to use three digits — 988 — to call for free access to mental health services from professionally trained counselors at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, now the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Now they can text for that same critical support, too.
Why it matters: On average, it takes just four seconds to send a text message — and seconds count when mental health services are needed. Studies show that those who reached out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking with a counselor. This service removes barriers to accessing help.
Who it’s for: Any T-Mobile, Sprint, Metro by T-Mobile and Assurance Wireless customer who needs real-time access to mental health counseling and suicide prevention services.
BELLEVUE, Wash. — July 18, 2022 — T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) today announced that beginning on Saturday, July 16, 2022, its customers who may need immediate mental health support now have another way to get help — fast. Any T-Mobile, Sprint, Metro by T-Mobile and Assurance Wireless customers who text 988 will connect to a professionally trained crisis counselor 24/7/365, for free, at one of over 200 nationwide 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline centers. This new option follows T-Mobile’s industry-leading launch of 988 calling in November 2020, nearly 20 months before the July 16, 2022, national rollout deadline for all providers set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Opening up 988 calling and texting nationally comes as U.S. adults are reporting unprecedented levels of stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, increases in global unrest and economic concerns. At the same time, recent research has shown that while telephone conversations with a live person were the most desirable form of communication two years ago, now, with options like telehealth more widely accepted and used, people’s interest in making phone calls to their health providers declined after the pandemic. Those surveyed cite texting as a more accessible alternative. And accessibility is important in crisis situations. According to the Lifeline, those who connect with a counselor in a time of need were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed and more hopeful. Moreover, according to the latest CDC annual data, suicide rates in the U.S. on average are much higher for veterans, LGBTQ+ youth and minority populations.
“T-Mobile was proud to have been the wireless leader in launching 988 calling in late 2020, and we are proud that 988 texting is now also available to help further ensure there are no boundaries for people to get easy and safe access to critical, real-time mental health services,” said T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert. “The simple act of instilling hope through a call or text can potentially help save lives, and we laud the FCC for their efforts to guide the wireless industry on this important, people-first effort."
Prior to the launch of 988 calling, T-Mobile undertook comprehensive steps to ensure its nationwide network was ready to route to the 10-digit (1-800-273-8255) Lifeline number. This included updating its billing system to ensure customers would not be charged for calling the new dialing code and creating a bounce-back message for anyone texting 988 that provided guidance to call 988 for support. Prior to the launch of 988 texting, T-Mobile worked to make sure texts would go directly to the Lifeline without first being translated to Lifeline’s existing 1-800 number. This solution, which became shared across providers and industry partners, means that anyone texting 988 will receive a text back from 988 as expected and not from a different, unrecognizable number.
For more information on the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, visit https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/988.
Anyone who needs help can find it by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats. Veterans and service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, as well as by chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255.
T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) is America’s supercharged Un-carrier, delivering an advanced 4G LTE and transformative nationwide 5G network that will offer reliable connectivity for all. T-Mobile’s customers benefit from its unmatched combination of value and quality, unwavering obsession with offering them the best possible service experience and undisputable drive for disruption that creates competition and innovation in wireless and beyond. Based in Bellevue, Wash., T-Mobile provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile and Sprint. For more information please visit: https://www.t-mobile.com.