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New LGBTQ Extension at 988 Lifeline in New Mexico

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Rob Hampson
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After dialing 988, people now have the option to press 3 to be redirected to someone specially trained in queer and trans mental health issues.

This comes after the Human Services Department saw an overwhelming need to support the LGBTQ community since the 988 lifeline began six months ago.

LGBTQ people are at greater risk of self-harm and suicide than their straight and cisgender peers. The director of behavioral health services Neal Brown said queer and trans New Mexicans encounter stigma and discrimination and listening sessions showed they want to have confidence their mental health crisis won’t be made worse when reaching out for help. The new lifeline aims to be a safe and affirming resource to turn to.

Alex Ross-Reed, the executive director for Health Equity Alliance for LGBTQ+ New Mexicans welcomes the new crisis line.

"We're seeing a lot more people struggling with their mental health and the pandemic has hit the LGBTQ plus community really hard," said Ross-Reed. "I think that we’re still recovering from that, and the isolation and the economic impacts from that, and just also the continuing political climate that's been attacking trans people, certainly has an impact on the mental health of our community."

However, she adds that better mental health services for the queer and trans community are still needed, statewide.

LGBTQIA+ individuals can contact the 988 Lifeline via phone, text, or chat and will be connected with a specially trained, LGBTQIA-competent mental health peer by dialing extension number 3 by phone 24/7, and via text and chat during the hours of 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. MT daily.

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s currently a part of the Local News Fund Fellowship where she will be working with KUNM-FM and NMPBS during her 9-month fellowship where she will gain hands-on newsroom experience. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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