Warmlines vs. Lifelines: An Effective Tool for Mental Health in Non-Emergency Situations

Mental Health Warmlines

Everyone needs someone they can talk to from time to time regarding mental health issues, and Warmlines are an effective way to fill this health care gap, especially when the situation isn’t serious enough to call a crisis hotline.

Having someone to talk to during a period of personal struggle, whether it comes from the stress of work, a family fight, a bout of depression or just life in general, is very often a predictor of whether a person will sink into a mental health spiral or receive the support they need to avoid a crisis down the road.

Warmlines vs Suicide Lifelines for Mental Health

What Are Warmlines for Mental Health?

“Warmlines help people who think, ‘I don’t know why I’m not feeling great, or who to turn to, or where to get care, and I don’t know for sure if I even need care,'” Sarah Flinspach, who works for the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH), told USA Today.

These types of non-emergency phone banks, are staffed by trained mental health volunteers or paid professionals, and offer someone to simply listen or provide a caller with information and resources that will help them avoid an oncoming crisis.

Warmlines can be the difference between a person working through their issues or ending up in the emergency room as a result of intense anxiety or other issues.

In the United States, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that in 2018, an estimated 47.6 million people – around 19 percent of the population – experienced a mental health issue.

There are numerous reasons people refuse to seek help. The stigma associated with mental illness ranks near the top.

A 2018 survey, conducted by the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH), found that 52 percent of participants preferred to “grin and bear it” during a bout of depression or mental instability.

Warmlines provide an excellent in-between service because the call is confidential. This is one of the reasons more and more of them are springing up around the country. Many of these services have been around for several years, but are only now gaining public awareness.

Where Can I Find Warmline Numbers?

If you or someone you know simply needs to talk with a trained volunteer about mental health issues, here is a list of warmlines by state that might be able to help through some confusing times.

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco, which offers both an online chat and q phone warmline that covers the entire state, was founded in 2014. Between 2017 and 2018, the peer-run warmline provided more than 25,000 hours of support to callers.

In Minnesota, the nonprofit Wellness in the Woods has operated a warmline since 2016 for the central region of the state. With a little research, the organization decided the best time of operation for their community was from five in the evening to nine in the morning.

“We asked people who were potentially going to use the warmlines when would they be most likely to use this service,” Jode Freyholtz-London, founder of the nonprofit, said in an interview with the MinnPost. “They told us, ‘We want this service overnight. That’s when we don’t have anyone to call.’ For many people with mental illness, nights get lonely.”

Suicide Lifelines and Hotlines For Emergencies

Emergency numbers, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, continue to provide a vital service to those experiencing a mental health emergency. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-TALK (8255) and is available toll-free 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Prevention Hotlines and other crisis lifelines, however, are not necessarily appropriate for a person needing to simply talk through a mental health issue and consider potential approaches that may help.

If you are not considering suicide and don’t have an actual emergency, but instead just need person to talk with confidentially, a Warmline is the best place to start.

The person on the other end of the call may have been through the same issues you’re currently experiencing, and besides providing a supportive voice; they can also offer other resources that might be exactly what you need.