Rochester, N.Y. (WROC) — Just over one week ago, 988 launched across the country as a mental health crisis hotline. It is the first three-digit resource of its kind.

Locally, those calls are being answered by trained counselors at Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, who help those who may be struggling to get connected with the right resources, or simply, talk.

988 is an expansion of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which has been active for nearly two decades. Goodwill of the Finger Lakes is on the frontline helping those in our community with mental health needs.

With the dial of three numbers, those experiencing a mental health crisis are now able to reach resources more quickly.

The 24/7 hotline went live on July 16, with crisis call centers across the country taking calls. For those in the finger lakes region, their calls will be routed to the Goodwill of the Finger Lakes.

“So many of the staff we hired for this cohort, they have lived experience. So, a lot of them know what it’s like on the other side of the phone by either being helped or by being a helper,” Deborah Turner, program director for 2-1-1 Lifeline, said.

Turner says the focus is to connect those in need with a trained counselor and offer more resources if the caller is facing a crisis.

“These calls can be someone reaching out to talk about how they’re feeling and doing, struggles they’re having, to someone who is at a point where they may have a plan and have intention,” Turner said, “They can get really intense very quickly. Our goal is to deescalate and to offer other resources to help them be safe for now.”

Through 988, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes also handles intakes for mobile crisis teams and can deploy them if longer-term solutions are needed.

The lifeline is said to help filter calls that might otherwise go to 9-1-1.

“The sooner that we can intervene, or someone can reach out to intervene for themselves, that is suicide prevention,” Turner said, “That’s been a big shift in mentality where you don’t have to contact us if you have thoughts of suicide. If you’re just struggling and you need someone to talk to or you need support to really get you that long-term support, that’s what we’re here for.”

Staffing has proven challenging for crisis call centers in other cities. Right now, however, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes is almost fully-staffed for the lifeline, and may look to hire in the future as demand is expected to increase.