Crisis lifeline phone number to appear on all new Dartmouth IDs

Two years into its partnership with the Jed Foundation’s JED Campus Program, the College is expanding its mental health resources

by Will Dehmel | 11/10/22 5:00am

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by Beam Lertbunnaphongs / The Dartmouth

In another effort to increase access to mental health resources on campus, the College announced last month that it will soon feature the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline on all student identification cards, following a statewide mandate passed in August which stipulated that all public schools in New Hampshire must add the number.

Formerly a ten-digit number, the suicide and crisis lifeline was changed to 988 in July by the Federal Communications Commission, according to the announcement. Anyone in the United States is eligible to receive around-the-clock confidential help from trained counselors by calling or texting 988 or chatting online at 988.lifeline.org, according to the organization’s website. The number works nationwide and directs the caller to their nearest crisis center, the College’s announcement added.

Any Dartmouth IDs printed in the future will have the number on them, and 988 stickers will be passed out to be placed on pre-existing IDs, according to a written statement from the DartCard office. Department of Student Affairs director of communications Elizabeth Ellis wrote that the office is currently working on the distribution plan and intentionally delayed distribution until after the Day of Caring.

Counseling Center director Heather Earle said putting the number on Dartmouth student IDs is an important additional contribution to the College’s campaign to increase mental health resources.

“Dartmouth has been committed to offering students as many crisis options as possible,” Earle wrote. “We see 988 as one of those important options.”

The measure was also modeled by the state of New Hampshire, according to Ellis. On Aug. 3, Gov. Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 234, requiring student identification cards issued by public or charter schools to feature the number, according to the governor’s website. 

Even though the plan wasn’t created at the College, Dartmouth Student Government president David Millman ’23 said he appreciates the initiative.

“I think it’s really great just to try to get these resources through as many channels as possible,” Millman said. “Having it on a student ID is something that everyone uses everyday, so they’re always going to have it with them… it makes it just really readily accessible.” 

The impact of the number’s visibility extends beyond its functionality, Millman added.

“I also think it has a very important social impact in the sense that it indicates a support for mental health services and also destigmatizing reaching out for help,” Millman said. “It signals to the greater community that this is something that people should use.”

Dartmouth Mental Health Union president Audrey Herrald ’23,, said that the Mental Health Union was not involved in the initiative. Nonetheless, she added that she views recent resource improvements as a joint mission between students and administration.

The hotline rollout comes after a series of other mental health initiatives organized by student advocates, student government and the College. In October, the College announced a Day of Caring following the deaths of several students and community members. The Mental Health Union and Dartmouth Student Government also spearheaded the introduction of teletherapy via UWill to all Dartmouth students located in the United States, which rolled out Nov. 1. Last year marked the beginning of the College’s partnership with the JED foundation, a nonprofit organization working to improve the mental health of the nation’s young adults, according to its website.

Herrald added that the Mental Health Union is currently working on two main initiatives in collaboration with other offices like the Student Wellness and Counseling Center.

“We’ve worked on changing language in the [course] syllabi to include mental health resources that all professors put in at the bottom of their syllab[i] as required language,” Herrald said. “And then obviously sharing information about other mental health services across campus.”

This new move only continues the momentum of improvements to the College’s mental health resources, Millman said.

“I think it’s a really good thing,” Millman said. “It’s a positive contribution to genuinely showing that Dartmouth is taking this seriously and taking steps in the right direction. I think every initiative — every thing that adds to that — is a positive.”

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