Crisis Hotlines 

By Galen Hatcher

Millions of people all over the world struggle with numerous problems from hardships to trauma to physical and mental health. Sometimes things happen that cannot wait for another day to go to the doctor or to a therapist. That is where crisis hotlines become super valuable. There are crisis hotlines that offer many different services. A few of the most important crisis hotlines are the National Crisis (Suicide) Hotline, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, but there are many more crisis hotlines out there that are also very important. So, what are some of the benefits of crisis hotlines, what can you expect from a crisis hotline worker, and how do you go about choosing a hotline? 

One of, and the most important, benefits of crisis hotlines are the fact that they are 24/7 meaning that someone is always available. Some of the other benefits of crisis hotlines are that they are available through call or text, have trained professionals who are ready to listen, offer feedback, suggest resources, and provide comfort, and if the situation becomes dire the person on the other end of the phone is able to contact local services for immediate help. In 2020, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline received 833,598 calls, The National Domestic Violence Hotline received 636,968 calls, online chats, and texts, and The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline received 2,392,790 calls. 

When calling or texting a crisis hotline you can expect hotline workers to be active listeners that will ask questions that can help process your emotions and situation. Depending on the circumstances, a helpline worker might help you make an action plan that covers what to do next. Having a plan can give you a sense of empowerment, no matter what you’re dealing with. This plan might involve creating a list of friends and family to reach out to during a crisis, identifying local resources that may be helpful in the future, and deciding steps to take such as finding a therapist. 

Choosing a crisis hotline can be an overwhelming task, especially when going through a crisis. A few quick steps to find a suitable hotline include sorting through HelpGuide’s directory of helplines based on your country, going to the section that best matches your personal needs. Are you struggling with an addiction? Are you feeling suicidal? Are you a caregiver or veteran?, considering your preferences. Will it be easier for you to communicate with someone via phone call, online chat, or text?, and finally selecting any of the hotlines that match your needs. 

Finally, here are the names and numbers of some national crisis hotlines. The Crisis Text Line is 741741, this is a national mental health hotline for those who cannot speak on the phone or are uncomfortable doing so. Their free crisis intervention is provided through SMS messages and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their Crisis Counselors are trained volunteers capable of providing support but not medical advice. Crisis Text Line handles every type of crisis, not just suicide. 988 is the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and offers 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and is also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service (TTY). It serves as an excellent resource to those seeking further, in-person assistance by referring people to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. The National Mental Health Hotline is 1-866-903-3787 and the NAMI hotline is 1-800-950-6264. 

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