The San Diego Access & Crisis Line (ACL) 

Confidential and free of charge, the San Diego ACL (1-888-724-7240) offers support and resources countywide in over 200 languages from experienced counselors on all behavioral health, mental health and substance use topics, including but not limited to:

  •  Alcohol and substance use support services
  • Community resources
  • Crisis intervention
  • Mental health referrals
  • Mobile crisis response services
  • Suicide prevention

The ACL provides information and related resources to the community, and helps facilitate access to crisis intervention and response services for those actively experiencing a behavioral health, mental health, or substance use crisis:

  • Behavioral health crises or emergencies, also known as psychiatric emergencies, are situations in which a person’s actions, feelings, or behaviors may lead them to hurt themselves or others or put them at risk of being unable to care for themselves or function in a healthy manner. Such crises often involve feelings of hopelessness or helplessness and may be initiated or worsened by substance use. For more information on behavioral health crises please see the FAQ section.

The goal of the ACL is to connect individuals who may require mental health or substance use support to appropriate programs, providers, and resources to help meet their needs.

Not sure what help you may need?

Contact the ACL at 1-888-724-7240 and speak to a representative to find resources for you or someone you care about. The ACL is operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and language interpreter services enable call center staff to provide help in 200 different languages. Live chat is also available Monday through Friday, 4pm-10pm, through the ACL website or up2sd.org

How is the ACL different from 988?

Beginning July 16, 2022, 988 will be the new national phone number for connecting people to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in a suicidal, mental health and/or substance use crisis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.

During the initial rollout, calls made to 988 will be connected to a crisis call center based on the phone number the call is made from.

  • Calls made from a San Diego County area code (e.g., 619, 858, 760, or 442) will be routed directly to the ACL.
  • Calls made from other area codes will be routed to the local crisis call center based on the caller’s area code. Call center staff will work to deescalate the situation and reroute the caller to the crisis call center closest to their current location for local services if needed.

San Diego County residents and visitors are encouraged to reach out directly to the ACL at 1-888-724-7240, the region’s existing crisis line.

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Who can call the ACL?

    Anyone struggling with a substance use or mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety, suicide, loss, or anger, can call the ACL to speak to a representative. Family members, friends, or professionals seeking advice and resources for someone they are concerned about can also call.

    Contact the ACL if you:

    • Are unsure where to start
    • Need to talk to a professional who cares
    • Feel like you cannot cope with life
    • Are looking for community resources
    • Have questions about local behavioral health programs or services
    • Are concerned someone you know might hurt themselves
    • Feel like you might be in danger of hurting yourself or others
    • Have concerns about a loved one’s mental health and need assistance getting help
       
  • What happens if I call the ACL?

    You will self-select what kind of service you need by entering the corresponding numerical prompt. Callers will hear a greeting message while their call is being routed. A professional counselor will answer the phone, listen to the caller, ask questions to better understand the situation, and provide resources and support based on the caller’s needs.

  • Who will I speak to if I call the ACL?

    You will speak to an ACL representative who is a clinician with expertise in mental health and/or substance use. They are trained to respond to behavioral health-related questions and crisis situations and can provide compassionate and knowledgeable support to callers.

  • Do I have to give personal or demographic information as the caller? Can I just ask about my situation?

    The ACL will ask for basic demographic information at the beginning of the call, but you are not required to give this information and can decline to do so. The counselor will still be able to proceed with the call and assist you.

  • How will information I provide be used?

    The information you provide will be used primarily to assess your need and provide the most appropriate guidance and resources. Some de-identified information like age, ethnicity, and referral types are part of reporting needs but no protected health information is disclosed. 

    Calls are confidential with the exception of limits to confidentiality if you are in danger of hurting yourself or others. 

  • What if I or the person I call about is undocumented?

    The ACL can still assist the callers and provide appropriate referrals regardless of documentation status. 

  • Will my call be recorded?

    Yes, calls may be recorded for training and quality assurance purposes only.

  • Will I get in trouble if I call the ACL and I end up not needing services?

    No. ACL clinicians are trained to ask a series of questions designed to deploy the right services. Don’t hesitate to call if you think there might be a need. 

  • Will the launch of 988 impact or replace the ACL?

    The 988 dialing code does not replace the ACL. The ACL is already a partner of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and will complement the 988 dialing code. The U.S. is launching a 988 dialing code nationwide on July 16, 2022, to make it easier for people to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

    During the initial rollout, calls made to 988 will be connected to a crisis call center based on the phone number the call is made from.

    • Calls made from a San Diego County area code will be routed directly to the ACL. San Diego area codes are currently: 619, 858, 760, and 442.
    • Calls made from other area codes will be routed to the local crisis call center based on the caller’s area code. Lifeline Call center staff will work to de-escalate the situation and reroute the caller to the crisis call center closest to their current location for local services if needed.
       

    San Diego County residents and visitors are encouraged to reach out directly to the ACL as the region’s existing crisis call center. For more about the 9-8-8 dialing code, visit 988 FAQs.

  • Will 988 be able to answer calls for people who are deaf or hard of hearing?

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline currently serves TTY users either through their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 then 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also offers services through chat and text and is in the process of expanding to video phone service to better serve deaf or hard of hearing individuals seeking help through the Lifeline/988.

  • What is the difference between ACL, 988, 911, and 211?
    • The ACL and 988 provide support for people who are experience a mental health or substance use issue, including suicidal thoughts or feelings, or experiencing other types of mental health distress. 988 allows for easier access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network.
    • 911 is utilized for emergencies with a focus on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire, and police as needed.
    • 211 provides non-emergency health and social service assistance information and referrals.


    If there is an imminent risk to someone's life that cannot be de-escalated during a call to 988, the crisis counselor on the line will connect with 911 for emergency assistance.

  • What is considered a behavioral health crisis?

    A behavioral health crisis, sometimes also called a behavioral health emergency or psychiatric emergency, is a situation in which a person is experiencing a high degree of emotional distress and is behaving in a manner that could place their health and safety or the health and safety of others in danger if no help or intervention is provided. If you or someone you know or observe may be experiencing a crisis of this nature, even if you are not sure of the full situation or what help you may need, call the ACL so you can speak with a behavioral health professional. Every situation is unique and often requires a tailored response. ACL representatives can help connect you to the right resources or response for your specific situation. If experiencing a medical emergency or if you need a law enforcement response, please call 911.

    The following list includes some common signs that may be associated with a mental health or substance use-related crisis:

    • Changes in mood or behaviors that cause concern
    • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
    • Sudden changes to hygiene and self-care practices
    • Unusual thoughts, sounds, or visions that cause fear or distress  
    • Sudden onset or increase of substance use
    • Feeling helpless or hopeless

    This list is not exhaustive or applicable to all behavioral health crises. If you have concerns about yourself or someone you know or observe, call the ACL at 1-888-724-7240.