Nearly 20% of American adults–up to 44 million–struggle with mental illness annually, including conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, eating disorders, and a whole host of other issues. And sometimes, people end up in a
mental health crisis, which is any situation where a person’s mood and behaviors impair functioning to the point where he or she can no longer care for himself or herself or perform his or her role in the community at large. This crisis can lead them to hurt himself or herself or others, so it needs to be addressed.
If you or a loved one are in a metal health crisis and need to talk to someone immediately, pick up the phone. You can call a crisis hotline and talk to a line operator who will be able to connect you with resources to tackle your current challenge. Hotlines are available to you whether you have insurance or not, and they are private. Some crisis lines won’t even appear on a phone bill, ensuring the confidentiality of the caller. Thoroughly-trained hotline operators will be able connect you with treatment providers in your area.
What Should I Ask the Hotline Operator?
Calling a mental health hotline doesn’t have to be intimidating. Hotline operators have a wealth of information to answer your questions about your issues Consider asking some of these questions:
- How do I get diagnosed? (For a post covering this topic from the Bipolar Parent, click here.)
- Are there special techniques will work better for me, based on my diagnosis?
- What happens if I have more than one condition?
- How are metal health conditions treated?
- What treatments are available in my area?
- How do I know which type of doctor to see? (For a post covering this topic from the Bipolar Parent, click here.)
- How long will I have to be in treatment?
- Will I have to take medications, and can I ever stop taking them?
- What is my next step?
If you are calling a hotline because you are concerned about a loved one, your questions may include:
- How can I talk to my loved one about his or her diagnosis without upsetting him or her?
- How can I help his or her recovery?
- How do I know if his or her diagnosis is correct?
- How do I get my loved one diagnosed?
- What treatments are available in my area for my loved one, based on his or her diagnosis?
- How can I encourage him or her to seek treatment?
- What should I do in a crisis?
- How do I ensure healthy boundaries while still caring for my loved one?
Mental Health Crisis Lines
If you need a warmline, which is a line run by volunteer peers who will listen to you vent your troubles confidentially before you hit a crisis, please see the previous post on the Bipolar Parent.
In any crisis, if you are in immediate danger, call 911. Make sure to let the operator know that you are in a psychiatric crisis and ask for officers trained in crisis intervention.
If you are looking for support, resources, and knowledge from an highly-trained hotline operator, call one of these nationwide crisis hotlines:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): (800) 950-6264. NAMI’s hotline’s hours of operation are weekdays from 10am to 6pm EST. Hotline operators can provide resources for support groups, legal support, and treatment centers, as well as information about mental illness.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): (800) 662-4357. SAMHSA operates a 24-hour mental health hotline. They provide connections to treatment, education, and support for mental health crises. They also run an online Behaviorial Treatment Locator to help you find treatment centers.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): (866) 615-6464. NIMH also runs a live chat option, just in case you didn’t want to call. The telephone hotline and the chat are available Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm EST.
- Mental Health America Hotline: Text MHA to 741741. MHA provides support through texts. You’ll be connected to an operator who can give you support through crises or just information.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255. This 24-hour Lifeline also provides a live chat.
- Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741. You can also text NAMI to 741741. If you are in Canada, you can text HOME to 686868. If in the UK, text HOME to 85258. These are free, 24-hour crisis hotlines. These messages do not appear on a phone bill.
- Veterans Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255. Text a message to 838255. Operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, this hotline offers help to military veterans and can connect them with the VA in their area.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233), (800) 787-3224 (TTY), (800) 942-6908 (Spanish).
This 24/7 Trained operators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to victims of domestic violence. Spanish and other languages are supported.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-HOPE (4673). A sexual assault service provider in your area will provide you with a variety of free resources. 24/7.
- ChildHelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) or (800)2-A-CHILD (800-222-4453, TDD for hearing impaired). Multilingual ChildHelp operators can refer you to social services offering counseling for child abuse, as well as offer brief counseling over the phone. 24/7.
- Boys Town Crisis and Suicide Hotline: (800) 448-3000 or (800) 448-1833 (TDD). Boys Town operators are trained to counsel you through parent-child conflicts, marital issues, pregnancy, suicide, runaways, and abuse. 24/7.
- Covenant House Hotline: (800) 999-9999
This crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for teens and adolescents, as well as their families. Topics covered range from drugs and homelessness to abuse and runaway children.
- Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 829-1122.
- STAND Against Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline: (888) 215-5555.
- SafeQuest Crisis Line: (866) 487-7233 (4UR-SAFE). This 24-hour crisis line counsels victims of violence or sexual abuse. The line is nationwide, but California residents may receive state-certified emergency shelter support.
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD): (847) 831-3438 (long distance).
- Elder Abuse Hotline: (800) 252-8966.
- Alzheimer’s Association Hotline: (800) 621-0379. Available Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 4pm EST.
- Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Prevention Information Network: (800) 458-5231. Operators are available Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm EST, to answer question about HIV and AIDS.
- National Sexually Transmitted Disease Hotline: (800) 227-8922. Available Monday-Friday, 8am to 11pm EST, to answer questions and provide referrals to free and low-cost clinics in your area.
- Parent Hotline: (800) 840-6537. Parent Hotline is dedicated to helping parents in crisis. They offer a questionnaire to determine if a child is need of intervention.
- Poison Control: (800) 222-1222.
- Poison Control for any kind of substance: (800) 662-9886.
- Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN) Crisis Hotline: (800) 656-4673.
- National Teen Dating Helpline: (866) 331-9474. Operators will counsel teens who have been abused.
- Missing Children Network: (800) 235-3535.
- Hopeline: (800) SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
- SOS Teen Hotline: (800) 949-0057.
- Grief Recovery Helpline: (800) 445-4808.
- National Safe Haven Alliance Crisis Hotline: (888) 510-BABY. If you are pregnant and have questions about how “Safe Surrendered Baby” laws can help you, or if you want to surrender your baby, call this toll-free number 24/7. There are many safe surrender sites around the US where you can safely hand over your baby with no questions asked, such as hospitals, fire stations, or lifeguard stations. If you are in crisis, you and your baby will be protected. Don’t abandon your baby in an unsafe place.
- SOS Teen Hotline: (800) 949-0057.
- National Youth Crisis Hotline: (800) 448-4663. Available 24/7 to provide short-term counseling and referrals to shelters, therapeutic services, and drug treatment centers. Aids youth dealing with pregnancy, physical and sexual abuse, and suicide.
If you or a loved one are suffering from a crisis, especially a mental health crisis, you don’t have to suffer alone. There are resources available to help you. Trained operators are standing by, waiting for your call. Pick up the phone and take the first steps out of despair.