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Access to 988 line for mental health emergencies in Hawaii launches Saturday

Hawaii will adopt the national 988 line for direct access to mental health and substance use crisis resources on Saturday, according to the state Department of Health.

On Saturday, individuals with an 808 area code phone number can call 988 to connect with the Hawaii CARES crisis line for mental and emotional health support and substance abuse recovery. Those calling from other area codes will be connected with a crisis center in another state.

Hawaii CARES — which is administered by DOH with support from CARE Hawaii and Aloha United Way — provides 24/7 free and confidential support to people in mental health or substance use-related distress. Locally trained and qualified clinical and crisis call center staff provide supportive counseling and screening for urgent needs and offer referrals to behavioral health resources.

DOH’s wraparound services can also connect CARES callers and others with crisis mobile outreach services and other services.

“The 988 launch reflects a nationwide commitment to prioritizing mental health and increasing access to resources,” said Marian Tsuji, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health, in a news release. “In Hawaii, 988 adds to the ways that people can reach the CARES Crisis Line. Our staff will continue to connect people across Hawaii with mental health and substance use recovery resources.”

Hawaii CARES is part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a network of over 200 independent crisis centers equipped to help people in mental health-related distress or experiencing a suicidal crisis. Last year, Hawaii CARES received 101,151 calls.

Congress in 2020 designated 988 as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to improve access to mental health care.

Anyone can also continue to reach Hawaii CARES by calling 808-832-3100 or 1-800-753-6879; or by using the chat function at

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