9 Free Mental Health Hotlines Available Right Now


9 Free Mental Health Hotlines Available Right Now

Mental Health
RxSaver Editors
By RxSaver Editors
May 13, 2020
9 Free Mental Health Hotlines Available Right Now

Editor’s Note: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This article is part of a special series we’re publishing this month with personal stories, education and resources around mental health, especially managing mental health during a pandemic. If you need immediate help please contact The National Suicide Prevention Line at  1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor for free at Crisis Text Line.

It’s not surprising that mental health hotlines are seeing record-setting increases in calls right now. With millions of Americans isolated at home and coping with health fears, financial instability, and other major stressors of the coronavirus pandemic, hotlines can be an important source of information and support in a mental or emotional crisis. But what hotlines are available, and what should people expect when they call? Here’s what you need to know.

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How Mental Health Hotlines Work

Most mental health hotlines work by connecting you to a trained, volunteer crisis counselor who can listen, provide emotional support, and refer you to more services if necessary. Most hotlines operate 24-hours a day, so you can call even if it’s late at night, or at a time when your loved ones aren’t available to talk. They’re also confidential, although counselors may contact law enforcement if they believe you’re a threat to yourself or someone else.

In addition to telephone hotlines, several programs offer services that allow you to chat with a volunteer by text or online, which can be a good option if you’re in a place where it’s tough to talk privately, or if you prefer to communicate in writing.

Finally, mental health hotline services are free — but it’s important not to confuse them with online therapy providers, which charge fees to speak to a licensed therapist.

When to Call a Mental Health Hotline

Hotline crisis counselors are trained to help with a variety of mental health issues, including:

  • Depression
  • Manic episodes
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Domestic abuse
  • Psychotic breaks

Consider calling a mental health hotline when you’re in crisis. That might mean that you’re feeling severe mental or emotional distress, your usual methods of coping haven’t helped, and you don’t know where else to turn for support. You can call if you need information on mental health issues or how to get treatment and support in your area, and you can also call on behalf of someone else, if a loved one or household member is in crisis.

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However, mental health hotlines aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Remember that talking with a crisis volunteer is not a substitute for mental health treatment or therapy with a licensed professional. And if you or someone close to you is in immediate danger, or your thoughts of suicide are getting stronger, you should call 911 or go to an emergency room.

What to Expect From A Mental Health Hotline

Since aach mental health hotline is operated by a different program, your experience might be a little different depending on which one you call. After you dial the number, you might hear music or a recorded message while you wait to speak with someone. You’ll be connected with a trained, volunteer crisis counselor who will ask you questions to figure out what kind of help you need.

These questions might include:

  • What prompted you to call today?
  • What has changed recently that led you to call?
  • What’s going on in your life?
  • How are you feeling?
  • What is it that you think you need?
  • Are you thinking of harming yourself?

The person can listen supportively and talk with you through the crisis, then help you access more information and resources before ending the call.

Crisis counselors can also answer your questions about mental health concerns and give you information about treatment options. If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, they can help you understand what’s happening with your loved one, how you can help them, and how to take care of yourself and stay safe while caring for someone with mental health issues.

Top Mental Health Hotlines

There are many different national mental health hotlines available, including several that are aimed at serving specialized communities and needs. There are also local crisis lines in every state that can help connect you with someone in your area and refer you to services near you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

“No matter what problems you’re dealing with, whether or not you’re thinking about suicide, if you need someone to lean on for emotional support, call the Lifeline.” 888-628-9454

Crisis Text Line

Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor by text 24/7.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine

Available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, the NAMI HelpLine (800-950-NAMI) is not a crisis hotline but offers free mental illness peer support, information and referrals.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The National Helpline (800-662-HELP) provides free, 24-hour confidential treatment referral and information for both mental health and substance abuse concerns. The Disaster Distress Helpline (800-985-5990) will connect you with the nearest crisis center mental health support after a natural or human-caused disaster.


Call or text 877-870-HOPE for for support if you are in crisis or feeling suicidal, or for grief support if you have lost a loved one to suicide. Online chat support is also available.

Veterans Crisis Line

“If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, there are caring, qualified VA responders standing by to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” You do not need to be registered with the VA or enrolled in VA health care to access the line. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also get support by texting 838255 or via online chat.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

“The Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to empower victims and survivors to find safety and live free of abuse. We also provide support to friends and family members who are concerned about a loved one.” Call 800-799-7233. You can also chat privately online with an advocate if it’s not safe to call.

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

Call 800-4-A-CHILD or text 800-422-4453, or chat online to get help dealing with child abuse.

The Trevor Project

LGBTQ+ youth who are in crisis or thinking about suicide and need immediate support can call 866-488-7386, text START to 678678, or use an online chat portal to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

If you’re in crisis, feeling overwhelmed, or struggling with suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone. Fortunately, help is available. By calling a mental health hotline — or calling 911 in an emergency — you can get the support you need in the moment, and get referrals to additional services that can help you take care of your mental health and start to feel better for the long term.

RxSaver Editors

RxSaver Editors

RxSaver Editors are wellness enthusiasts who help you learn how you can save the most on prescription medication costs and other health-related topics.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.