California Turns to Mental Health 'Warm Line' for Help

The weight and reality of the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh heavily on people across the globe, and on Monday, shelter in place orders were extended for millions of Bay Area residents until May 1. 

As the virus interrupts and threatens the daily lives of people around the world, many have found juggling economic hardships and minding physical and mental health to be especially trying.

The California Peer-Run Warm Line is a non-emergency mental health hotline that predates the pandemic, and is accessible for those who need help handling these unprecedented times.

The service is run by The Mental Health Association of San Francisco and provides emotional support, as well as information and referrals to callers throughout the state by phone and through instant messaging on its website.

Sarah Jean Flynn is the Warm Line manager and she told KCBS Radio that the call volume has been steadily rising, especially in the last year when its services extended from Bay Area specific to covering the entire state of California.

“A normal increase of about nine percent month-to-month has just about doubled since COVID-19 has happened,” Flynn said. 

Since that time, Flynn said that they have been tracking the number of callers who talk specifically about COVID-19 as a concern during their calls.

“That’s up to about 34 percent right now,” Flynn explained. “So we’re hearing from a lot of folks who are feeling anxious and worried about that.”

Flynn described the Warm Line as preventative service and a venue for people who may not consider themselves at a crisis point, but still need to call and talk to a friendly, informed voice who can coach them through the challenges and stress that they are facing. 

“Having readily available access to support and that human connection can really prevent people from getting into that crisis point later on,” Flynn said.

While the Warm Line has been experiencing a longer wait time than normal, Flynn said that they are managing the call volume as well as they can. Callers have the ability to leave a message in anticipation of a call back.

The California Peer-Run Warm Line can be reached at (855) 845-7415 and online at mentalhealthsf.org

 

Written by Mallory Somera