Mental Health

What you can and cannot expect from California’s new mental health line

This month, California launched the first statewide mental health line. The peer-run line based in San Francisco will get $10.8 million over three years to expand across the state.

‘Warm Line’

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. – 43.8 million – experience mental health challenges per year. This month, the state signed off on funding for a call center based in San Francisco to cover the whole state. The California Peer-Run Warm Line offers free nonemergency emotional support and referrals via phone or instant messaging. Its toll-free number is 855-845-7415 and it operates 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays.

Mark Salazar, executive director of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, says, “The call center is scheduled to ramp up to 24/7 service by the end of the year and expects about 25,000 calls a year. San Francisco has operated a similar service since 2014.”

On the line

When Salazar described the service, he said, “Our goal is to offer accessible, relevant, nonjudgmental peer support to anyone in the state of California who reaches out to us. Having readily available access to support and human connection helps people avoid getting to a crisis point later on.

“Callers consistently reach out to the Warm Line for multiple, often related, reasons. Someone who calls feeling isolated, for example, may also be experiencing underlying mental health challenges that create barriers to employment and accessing stable housing. We regularly see examples of the cycle of trauma being perpetuated in this way, often putting people in danger of reaching a crisis point without ongoing support.”

What it is not

When asked what the call center will not do, Salazar said, “The line is not a crisis line or a hotline. The warm line aims to prevent a crisis. To provide you the support before you reach crisis. Crisis lines, hotlines and suicide hotlines are for those that are in crisis and in need of immediate support or intervention.”

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