So today’s topic. Hotlines. Those numbers you can call to vent your feelings on issues you’re having, which for those of us with severe mental illness can be quite deep and painful things that are so hard to say out loud to anyone and so reaching out anonymously is easer. Also just getting a compassionate ear can mean so much. I don’t know how long hotlines have been around, that would be interesting to find out. But I have heard a lot of pros and cons to them, basically it comes down to who you get when you call and if you do get someone who doesn’t click whether you have the emotional strength to try again. Also I feel the level of training/ supervision of volunteers makes a big difference.
I remember calling the Samaritans once whil at home when going to community college. It was at night and I couldn’t sleep. I talked to this very nice guy for twenty minutes and it was extremely helpful. I tried volunteering their once. Their policy of not stepping in and demanding a person get help for being suicidal was something I could not deal with at the time. However after my own experiences of having been suicidal and the kind of feedback one needs in order to have a conversation and trust the other person, I can totally one hundred percent see their point. I wish I could volunteer for Samaritans but there aren’t any branches in Chicago. Which is too bad because there are many in other states plus other countries as it was started in the UK.
I then went on to do some hotline work at my internships in college. I was on a helpline at a women’s center and took calls about domestic violence, depression, and people just needing to vent. It was so interesting to hear these people’s stories and follow them as they would call back several times during the course of my internship. Over time I got good at knowing what each person needed to feel safe and talk.
Lastly I worked at a gay men’s domestic violence hotline. Which honestly there weren’t many calls to. I don’t know why that was. But I did get a few calls. Most important at that internship was the forty hour training on DV which included crisis intervention, multicultural issues, disability, substance abuse trauma ETC. I got a lot out of that.
I felt quite proud of myself for my work on hotlines. One big advantage is you don’t have to have siht at all to do this, and as long as the equiptment, phone system ETC is accessible it shouldn’t be a problem like blindness would present itself to those running volunteer programs so hopefully there isn’t that obstacle. There wasn’t at my internships.
Unfortunately there aren’t many hotlines at all in Chicago. The only one is the national run away hotline. I don’t know much about it and would worry about physically going to a part of Chicago that I’m not sure is safe.
However there are some online support options I’m discovering such as seven cups of tea, an online active listening service. I don’t know much about it but am exploring it. I plan to find something to get me back into hotline work again.
So as I said would love to get your experiences either as volunteers or callers to various hotlines. Below will be a list of them for reference.
Would love discussion and comments.
National runaway safe line in Chicago
Breathing space scotland
Hotlines in other countries? Would love to hear about them. Any and all comments/ information are accepted. Let’s start a great discussion on a very important issue!