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Got the Blues? Tell It to 855-845-7415

San Francisco is listening. 

 

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When anyone—anywhere in the world—needs to talk, San Francisco wants to hear about it. In 2014, the city launched the Warm Line (phone number above), a program to curb mental health problems (and costs) by giving people someone to talk to. “Anyone can call for any reason,” says Melodee Jarvis, the Warm Line’s program manager. “We get calls about panic attacks or suicidal thoughts, but sometimes people call just to say good morning or good night. Often they have friends and family they can turn to, but they don’t want to overburden those people, so we become part of their support system.”

Similar to a checkup that catches minor health problems before they become serious, easy-access counseling by phone weekdays from 7 am to 11 pm and weekends from 11 am to 7 pm or online chat (the program plans to offer a text-based counseling service soon) relieves mental pressures that might otherwise lead to a real crisis. Every staffer in the peer-run program has personal experience with mental health issues and recovery, as well as the patience to stay on a call as long as the caller needs to talk. Although the line primarily serves Northern California, people from as far away as the United Kingdom have checked in via the online chat feature. “There are hotlines, crisis lines, and suicide lines,” says Alison Lustbader of the city’s Department of Public Health, “But until now, there’s been little for people who just need community.”

 

Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco

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