German-based T-Mobile has announced that it has become the first carrier to enable the 988 emergency number for mental health services to its US customers.
It has added support for the 988 mental health services number over a year and a half ahead of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) deadline, the company said on Friday.
The FCC is an independent agency of the US government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the nation.
T-Mobile users who dial 988 will be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) and its network of crisis centers across the United States.
Abdul Saad, Chief Technology Officer of T-Mobile, said in a statement that making the 988 emergency number available to its users was “a matter of urgency for us, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the holiday season approaches.”
In 2019, the FCC released a report suggesting that a three-digit hotline number would make it easier for people to seek help for their mental health issues.
In July, the FCC voted unanimously to make 988 the number to connect to the NSPL hotline. It gave carriers until July 2022 to put the number into effect.
In October, President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill to create the 988 hotline number for those who need help for their psychological issues.
However, the 988 mental health service number is not able to receive text messages. In July, Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC commissioner, said it was problematic, noting that the voice service is “not native for most young people.”
People who are looking for mental health support can still contact the NSPL by dialing 1-800-273-8255 or by using online chats on the website. The article originally appeared on The Verge.