What Can You Text A Crisis Hotline For? Counselors Say You Can Reach Out For Any Reason
Crisis phone or text hotlines are incredible, free resources that can help anyone going through a crisis — but not everyone knows exactly what a "crisis" looks like. It takes courage to reach out for help when you’re in a vulnerable place, no matter what's behind those vulnerable feelings. Counselors want you to know, however, that you can text a crisis hotline for almost any personal issue, whether you need more support after a breakup, or you're feeling lonely, or you're stressed out at work.
“People sometimes think their issues aren’t important enough to get help,” Ashley Womble, Head of Communications for Crisis Text Line tells Bustle by email. “That’s just not true. There is no minimum amount of pain that you have to endure on your own before you reach out.”
Getting support can be an powerful act of self-care. Not only can they offer brief, short-term counseling, crisis helpline workers are trained to help you navigate the mental health system, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says. If you need referrals for mental health services, or if you’re a friend or family member of someone experiencing a crisis, hotlines are there to help.
If you’ve never called or texted a crisis helpline before, it can feel a little intimidating to take that first step. What happens when you call or text a crisis line can vary a bit depending on the organization, but typically, you’ll be placed on hold while you either wait for a counselor to become available, or you get routed to the best service for you. Some helplines are local, while others are national hotlines that anyone can contact. Your counselor will listen to you, ask questions about your situation, and will assess your safety. If you’re experiencing relationship problems, they’ll also make sure that you’re under no threat of violence or harm.
“Texting is silent,” Womble says, “So you can actually text us any time of day, from anywhere — whether you are in your bedroom at 3 a.m., at work, or, even out at a park. If you feel you’re in a crisis, we want you to text us.” You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting "HOME" to 741741, or call NAMI's hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
If you’ve ever felt like you need someone to talk to, texting or calling a crisis line is a great way to go. In case you’re not sure, here are 9 things you didn’t know you could text a crisis hotline for, so that you can get support when you need it most.
1. You Need Help For Substance Use Disorder
Crisis helplines can be a powerful way to get support if you need help managing substance use disorder, says the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA's National Helpline — 1-800-662-HELP(4357) — offers free, 24-hour, confidential treatment referral and recovery information in both English and Spanish, according to the website.
2. You're Coping With Chronic Illness
The stress of managing chronic illness can take a serious toll on your mental health. Between navigating the healthcare system, financial strain, and social isolation, people with chronic illness may need significant mental health support at times.
According to the Crisis Text Line website, chronic health problems can be a significant risk factor for depression and suicide. If you or someone you care about is feeling overwhelmed with the complexity of managing chronic illness or pain, reach out.
3. You Feel Isolated Or Lonely
About 20% of people in the United States feel chronically lonely, according to CONTACT Helpline, and this can contribute to both mental and physical health problems over time.
Getting in touch with someone to talk to can help ease the effects of loneliness, CONTACT Helpline says. “Talk about anything, the weather, problems on the job, your feelings of loneliness and isolation. [CONTACT Helpline] is a safe place to reach out and connect with another person.”
4. Your Mental Health Is Struggling
Womble says that about 93% of messages received at Crisis Text Line are from people dealing with anxiety disorders or stress. Moreover, 40% of texts are from people experiencing depression, 27% are having suicidal thoughts, 15% are coping with the urge to self-harm in some way, and about 4% are living with body dysmorphic disorder or eating disorders.
Living with a mental health conditions means that self-care is so important. If your symptoms are flaring up and you need to talk, don't hesitate to contact a trusted helpline service.
5. You’re Experiencing Abuse
According to Domestic Shelters, anonymously calling or texting a hotline can be crucial for anyone living in an abusive situation. If you're being harmed in any way, or are concerned for the well-being and safety of you, your children, or pets because of an abusive partner or family member, texting Crisis Text Line or calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) can help you get support, and get safe.
6. You’re Recovering From Abuse
It can take time to recover from the effects of any type of abuse, including emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. About five percent of people who reach out to Crisis Text Line are recovering from sexual assault, Womble says.
If you're coping with the effects of PTSD, or just need someone to talk to when friends and family aren't available to offer support, a trained crisis helpline counselor can be an invaluable resource.
7. You’re Dealing With Money Stress
About 13% of Crisis Text Line texters are coping with significant financial stress, Womble says. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a recent survey showed that 72 percent of Americans feel stressed out about money on an ongoing basis. Financial stress can take a major toll on relationships and mental health, the APA says. Getting support when stress levels are high can be so helpful in managing it.
8. You Have Questions About Your Sexual Orientation Or Identity
“LGBTQ people may experience more negative mental health outcomes due to prejudice and other biases," oSTEM says on its website. “Knowing what challenges you may face as a member of the LGBTQ community, and how to find and work with LGBTQ-inclusive providers, can help ensure more positive outcomes.”
9. You're Going Through School Or Work Stress
Up to 52% of people who reach out to Crisis Text Line have significant school-related stress, Womble says. Chronic worries about work or school can severely impact your mental and emotional well-being, Mental Health America says.
“The majority of our conversations with texters are about depression, relationships, anxiety, school, and suicidal thoughts,” says Womble.
Knowing that it's OK to reach out, and that support is available to you whenever you need it, can help make stress more manageable. “Our Crisis Counselors are here to support, not judge,” Womble says. “If you feel you’re in a crisis, we want you to text us. They are trained to listen, risk assess, and collaboratively solve problems.”
While a crisis text line is an extremely valuable mental health resource, Womble says that there are times when it’s best to skip the text. “If you are in an emergency situation and need the police or EMS, it’s best to call 911 than to text a crisis line.” The most important thing is that you get the help you need.