LEXINGTON, Ky. — In mid-July, a new, shorter mental health hotline will launch nationwide.

It’s similar to calling 911 during emergencies. The new 9-8-8 number is shorter than the current 10-digit number.

Here in Kentucky, people are looking forward to the new resource.

What You Need To Know

  • Beginning mid-July, a new shorter, mental health hotline will launch nationwide

  • It’s like calling 9-1-1 during emergencies

  • The new 9-8-8 number is shorter than the current 10-digit number

  • A Lexington man shares why it’s important to talk about mental health

Two years ago, David Napier picked up a new skill after a near scare with a panic attack: whittling.

“I’m usually working on 20 to 30 spoons at a time,” Napier said while he whittles a spoon. He goes by the name Chill.

A sample of David Napier's work. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)

He started whittling when his fiance asked him to make a spoon for a new salt cellar.

“She asked me if I would make a spoon and at that point, the only thing wood that I’ve ever done was build a cabinet which is just flat pieces of wood that I nailed together,” Napier said.

So he picked up a pocketknife and carved away.

Fast forward to this March, Napier lost his dad after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer. So he came to his nook to carve some spoons. But a couple of weeks later, he said, “That’s when I had my anxiety attack.”

He didn’t know what was going on, so he drove to the hospital for answers.

“I drove to the hospital just to find out that it wasn’t a heart attack that I was having,” he recalled. “I wasn’t actually dying, which was a giant relief in itself.”

The anxiety didn’t go away, though.

David Napier works in his basement in Lexington carving away a spoon. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)

“But it wasn’t until a phone call with a friend a couple of days later, I was in the middle of having an anxiety attack and then I was talking to my friend about my dad and instantly just started crying and the anxiety just wore off.” 

He’s now an advocate to others to talk about mental health issues, concerns and challenges in life. He’s been following his own motto.

“Now I talk about him a lot. It keeps that anxiety down, and keeps my heart open,” Napier said.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said they are investing $282 million in suicide prevention and crisis care services, telephone infrastructure and staffing at call centers.