Last month Fafa from Fafa's Book Corner invited me to do a guest post for Mental Health Awareness month. As you may or may not know, I used to work as a mental health nurse and I now volunteer for a crisis hotline, so I was totally down for writing something.
But the post took on a life of its own and grew in size to where I almost thought it was going to need to be multiple posts. (Why does everything I write end up twice as long as I plan for??) Long story short, we finally wrangled my words under control but by then it was too late to get the post formatted and ready to go in May. C'est la vie. I'm not too fussed about being "late" because if you ask me every month should be Mental Health Awareness month.
Click here to read my post about things you can do if you're worried that someone is considering suicide. In addition to the guest post, I decided to do a secondary post of resources here on my dusty old blog ;) They include information about suicide, but also places where you can find support for a variety of things you or someone you know might be struggling with.
Okay, here we go. Most of these are going to be American-based, but a lot of other countries should have similar hotlines and resource pages. Here's a list of worldwide suicide hotlines.
First of all, if you or someone you know is currently suicidal and in imminent danger, you should consider calling 911 (or your country's equivalent) or heading to a local emergency department. If you aren't ready or able to take one of those steps, your next best option would be to reach out to a a crisis hotline, a primary care physician, or a trusted friend/family member who can provide support and assist in locating additional resources.
Here are a few phone hotlines that might be helpful to you or someone you love. Click the link to go to the website to learn more about services offered. I included the Spanish Suicide Hotline because I know it's best to speak directly to someone who is fluent in your language, but the rest of these crisis lines should have interpreter services for most languages, including support for the deaf and hard of hearing.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 1-800-273-TALK
National Spanish Suicide Hotline. 1-888-628-9454
National Disaster Distress/Coronavirus Helpline. 1-800-985-5990
National Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799 SAFE
National Sexual Assault Hotline. 1-800-656-HOPE
1 in 6: chatline for boys and men who have been sexually assaulted (via 1in6.org)
The Trevor Project (for LGBT+). 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline. US: 877-565-8860. Canada: 877-330-6366
Veteran's Crisis Line. 1-800-273-8255 (press 1)
Drug and Alcohol Helpline. 1-800-662-HELP
National Parent Helpline. 1-855-427-2736
National Eating Disorders Helpline. 1-800-931-2237
Additional hotlines and resources for marginalized groups can be found here.
There are free support groups for almost every issue you can imagine. Many of these groups hold both in-person and online meetings. I didn't realize until I started taking Addiction Counseling classes that you could go to AA meetings online. I also didn't realize there were several alternatives to AA for people who don't feel comfortable with the spiritual or twelve-step structure of AA, like cognitive behavioral based SMART Recovery or Buddhist-inspired Refuge Recovery. Whether you want to talk to other people about addiction, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, aging, illness, career dissatisfaction, etc. I can almost guarantee there's a group for you. And if there's not a group, think about starting one. Chances are you're not the only one in your area who could benefit. Psychology Today is a great place to start looking. Click the arrow next to "therapists" and select "support groups" from the drop-down menu. The left sidebar has a huge list of options.
How do you know if you need a therapist? If you're even thinking you might, your next step should be to visit either your primary care doctor or to make an appointment with a counselor or therapist for an assessment. One thing I cannot stress enough: you do not need to have serious, life-threatening mental illness to qualify for and benefit from therapy. Let a trained professional tell you, "I honestly think you're fine and might get more from a support group or just making an appointment if a crisis comes up." (Two therapists have told me this after a couple months of sessions. I assure you if they don't think you can further benefit from therapy they will not ask you to keep coming).
Here are a couple places you can look for counselors and therapists online. I recommend Psychology Today a lot because it's easy to search by city or zip code and you can also find out who takes what insurance or sees low-income clients via sliding scale fees, etc. You can also search for psychiatrists, support groups, and treatment centers.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Alliance on Mental Illness
If you're looking for a medical provider or treatment program to help with addiction or substance use disorders, the U.S. government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration page has a great search function.
Do you have any great resources for people struggling with mental health or substance use issues? Share them in the comments and feel free to share hotline numbers and links for different countries as well.