Jan 3, 2023

Massachusetts' first-ever Behavioral Health Help Line went live on January 3, 2023, connecting people to a full range of treatment services for mental health and substance use offered in the Commonwealth 24/7 by phone, text, or chat.

The Help Line connects Massachusetts residents, regardless of insurance coverage, to a full range of treatment services for mental health and substance use offered in the Commonwealth, including outpatient, urgent care, and immediate crisis care. Individuals and families can call for real-time, initial clinical assessment, and connection to the right evaluation and treatment.

“This is a historic step... as we ensure that behavioral health remains an integral and accessible part of health care throughout the Commonwealth.”
Brooke Doyle, Massachusetts Commissioner of Mental Health (Source: MA Executive Office of Health and Human Services Press Release)

The Help Line is one of the major components of the state’s Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform. Demonstrating that behavioral health is just as important as physical health, the Roadmap makes it easier for all Massachusetts residents to find and access behavioral health services, creating a “front door” to mental health and substance use care.

The Help Line will work in conjunction with other components of the Roadmap, including providing warm handoffs to Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs) offering same-day intake and brief assessments, urgent and crisis treatment including medications, and drop-in treatment and support (i.e., group sessions, peer supports). CBHCs also provide treatment referrals, timely follow-up appointments, and evidenced-based treatment for mental health and substance use conditions.

“The first-ever Behavioral Health Help Line is for all of us... ensuring timely access to urgent and robust crisis services integrated with CBHCs and designated primary and specialty care practices.”
Danna Mauch, MAMH President and CEO (Source: MA Executive Office of Health and Human Services Press Release)

What’s the difference between the Behavioral Health Help Line and 988?

In July 2022, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline went live nationally, creating a new three-digit number for people to call when experiencing an immediate mental health crisis or having suicidal thoughts. Like the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help Line, 988 can be used anytime – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to speak to someone immediately via phone, text, or chat.

Both the Help Line and 988 provide critical supports to callers but have some differences.

Individuals who are in emotional distress or having suicidal thoughts and who call 988 will be connected with call takers who are trained to provide non-clinical, emotional support. Call takers also offer assistance with de-escalation and safety planning to help individuals through the least restrictive means possible. When calling the Behavioral Health Help Line, callers will work with a clinician who can provide brief assessments and help individuals and families find treatment and support for mental health and substance use needs.

The Help Line will work in close collaboration with the 988 Lifeline to receive warm handoffs for individuals who need clinical assessment, assistance booking an outpatient appointment, and connection to outpatient providers. Regardless of which number an individual calls, they will be able to receive help, when and where they need it most.

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If you’re in crisis: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

Call or text at 9-8-8 or chat online at 988lifeline.org

En Español: (888) 628-9454

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If you’re not sure how to find treatment or support: The Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help Line

Call and text at 833-773-2445 (BHHL) or chat online at masshelpline.com

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Find information on other mental health, substance use, and social services in your community at Network of Care Massachusetts.

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