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The pandemic, a troubling economy, war in Ukraine and the struggles of everyday life. There is little wonder that anxiety and depression surround us. Indeed, mental health is a national crisis that requires a response from government, the community and the health care system.

Every 11 minutes, someone takes their life in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among those between 15 and 19 years old and is the fourth-leading cause of death among individuals between 35 and 44, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The situation has become so dire for America's young people, especially, that the U.S. Surgeon General last December issued an advisory on the need to address the nation's youth mental health crisis. More recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a call for screening of all adolescents for suicide risk.

Too many people are experiencing suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need, and sadly, the pandemic has only made a bad situation worse when it comes to mental health and wellness in America.

It's a situation that calls for a coordinated and cooperative response. Thankfully, some key efforts are underway.

A new and simplified three-digit suicide prevention hotline number, 988, was rolled out Saturday. Similar to how people dial 911 when in any kind of emergency, 988 will serve as an easy-to-access hotline for people experiencing a mental health crisis. Trained counselors from the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be available via call, text and chat.

This new initiative is too important to fail. Everyone who has a stake in public health has a role to play and must join together in advocating for its implementation and success.

In addition to this necessary new resource, others are approaching the mental health crisis in bold and creative ways. Minnesota Timberwolves player Karl-Anthony Towns and Minnesota Lynx player Kayla McBride have talked publicly about their struggles with mental health. Legislatures in states as near as Iowa have introduced measures that would allow mental health days for students, which function much in the same way as paid time off days for those in the workforce.

Within the health care system, organizations like Medica have introduced programs that have simplified and increased access to mental health providers. Our Family Support Program provides clinical expertise and care navigation support to caregivers of children with complex mental health needs, while the Family Support Navigator is an interactive online tool that helps parents and caregivers find the right resources for children who may have autism or depression. We also have a behavioral health crisis line — which supplements the 988 number — that allows people to reach out to a counselor in times of stress and anxiety 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost.

The focus of our business and, we trust, that of our community is to help people live healthier lives. The time has come to put a greater emphasis on the mental health crisis. That's why we need to come together to ensure everyone has timely access to the care they deserve.

And now dialing three digits — 988 — will connect the people in greatest crisis with the urgent care they need. Please help raise awareness of this important resource.

Dr. David Webster is the chief clinical and provider strategy officer at Medica.