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By Gregory Powers
Launched in July 2022, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national behavioral health initiative, backed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The 24/7 line is designed to provide a more appropriate pathway for mental health emergencies than 911.
Washtenaw County residents can now call or text 988, or call Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH) directly at 734-544-3050, 24/7. Washtenaw County Community Mental Health staff suggest residents call the local number to reach local providers as quickly as possible.
"We're thrilled to see the launch of 988 and federal investment in the growing need for crisis and behavioral health services,” says Trish Cortes, executive director of WCCMH. “But we want Washtenaw County residents to know that they can also call us directly, anytime—whether it's a crisis situation, figuring out how to get connected to care, or simply learning more about their options for support."
How 988 works
When a person calls 988, they will hear an automated message and follow guided options while their call is routed to a state or local crisis center. Because not all local jurisdictions are equipped to handle mental health crisis calls 24/7, Michigan is routing its calls to the 24/7 Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL).
MiCAL provides crisis and informational services for those who call and then connects callers to their local system of care. This means that Washtenaw County residents will, in most cases, be connected with Washtenaw County Community Mental Health after calling 988.
Washtenaw County’s CARES hotline is staffed around-the-clock with trained mental health professionals who provide 24/7 access to mental health and substance use screenings, referrals to community providers, and guidance on how to get connected to services. Therefore, calling 734-544-3050 remains the quickest way for people in Washtenaw County to get connected to a local mental health professional.
In some situations, it may be more useful to call 988 or MiCAL. The 988 line offers both text and chat functions, in English only, which may be helpful to those who are less comfortable speaking on the phone.
MiCAL callers can also connect quickly with people in recovery who have experience with mental health or substance use issues. MiCAL’s certified peer and recovery coach warmline is available every day from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. at 1-888-733-7753. While WCCMH also employs peer support specialists, the MiCAL warmline is a quick and easy way to speak with on-call peer and recovery coaches.
WCCMH’s 24/7 hotline and crisis capacity is bolstered by the county’s Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage—which funds staff and programs available to all county residents, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay for services.