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Dialing 2-1-1 Puts Help at Your Fingertips

211, help at your fingertips, mental health

The hardest part about struggling is not knowing how to ask for help, or who to call. It’s easy to feel lost and alone. You might not realize it, but help is closer than you might think. Just three little numbers can get you the help you need.

In North Dakota, dialing 2-1-1 connects you to a listening ear and puts community resources at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also text your zip code to 898-211 for text help and support. 

Calling 211 allows you to speak to a real person who is ready to help. You can talk through a problem, explore mental health treatment options or find long-term mental health resources. Callers can remain anonymous and all conversations are confidential. 

It’s important to note that if you or a loved one is experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, or may be a danger to someone else or themselves, always call 911 first. 

But you don’t have to wait until you’re in crisis to call 211. The signs that you’re struggling with a mental health issue can be subtle. Things to watch for, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), include: 

  1. Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks.
  2. Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.
  3. Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities.
  4. Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason.
  5. Seriously trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so.
  6. Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or weight gain.
  7. Severe out-of-control risk taking behavior that can cause harm to self or others.
  8. Repeated use of drugs or alcohol. 
  9. Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits.
  10. Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still. 

Nationwide, nearly a million people who dialed 211 in 2021 were experiencing suicidal ideation or another mental health crisis – or were worried about someone else who was. 

The 211 line also reaches beyond mental health. In 2021, it helped more than 111,000 people get assistance related to sexual assault, domestic violence or human trafficking. The 211 network also helps people looking for help meeting basic needs, including housing, food, transportation and health care. 

In North Dakota, an organization called FirstLink has been answering 211 calls for 50 years, and also also answers the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. It also communicates via the text line at 898-211. Other dedicated and specialized helplines are also available to anyone in the U.S. 

  • Crisis Text Line serves anyone in any type of crisis, with free 24/7 support via text. Just text the word 'Home' to 741-741.
  • The Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth offers 24/7 information and support with trained counselors. Call 1-866-488-7386.
  • The Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to community, support and resources with direct emotional and financial support. Call 1-877-565-8860.
  • Veterans Crisis Line offers confidential crisis support for veterans and their loved ones. It’s free and operates 24/7. Dial 988 and press 1. You can also text 838-255.

Whatever your struggle, help and resources are out there. Feeling better can start with just three little numbers.