Lunch ‘n Learn Lecture: Using Hotlines to Help People Suffering from a Mental Health Crisis

Our Lunch n” Learn Lecture at Prime Life Enrichment Center in Carmel, this week, was about one self-help strategy we can offer to people suffering from a mental health crisis, such as suicidal thoughts or extreme anguish from depression: Crisis Hotlines. Offering a hotline number to people who just don’t want to leave their home or don’t want anyone they know to see they are suffering may just be the key to starting treatment. This may seem like a small, insignificant gesture, but giving a person an outlet for information, understanding, and a chance to express their feelings during a mental health crisis may be the one source of help that the person will try at a time of peak anguish.

What happens when you call a crisis hotline, like the National Suicide Prevention hotline (800-273-TALK)? When they answer the call, experienced and trained call center personnel will gather a little bit of information about the person who needs help, information like “Are you a child?,” “Are you a veteran?,” and “Are you feeling like you want to die by suicide?” They then direct your cal to experts who are specialized in your population type or the type of crisis that you are feeling. From there, you get to talk, answer some simple questions, and get the information that you may need. If they can’t help you, they will try to find someone who can.

They do not require that you tell them your name or other identifying information, but the caller can tell them as much as they¬† think they need to. If the person wants the hotline technician or doctor to have that information or wants them to call emergency services for you, the caller can still provide that information. The call and the ensuing process can be completely anonymous if that is what the caller needs. For someone who is in extreme distress, but feels like they can’t let anyone else know what is happening, this can be very comforting and may be the key to them asking for help that can save or change their life.

There are many types of hotlines which meet the needs of many populations of people, but they are difficult to find in an easy-to-use listing, so we at the Education & Wellness Coalition created one for you. By far, it is not a fully comprehensive listing, but it does meet the needs of many of our partners and friends, as well as those who come to our Mental Health First Aid certification classes in the State of Indiana. If you would like a copy of our hotline list, please email us at, and we will email you a copy. In the meantime, remember that the Suicide Prevention Hotline is one of the best self-helps a suffering person can utilize, and you can access them through phone, text, and Twitter:

Phone: 1 (800) 273-Talk

Text:  741741

The Lifeline on Twitter: @800273TALK

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