Crisis Counseling And Emergency Resources For Urgent Situations

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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A mental health crisis can happen to anyone and is not confined to people with a diagnosed or severe mental illness. In situations where people may need acute mental health support, it might not be reasonable to expect a person to wait until they can schedule a therapy appointment or until typical business hours to talk to an on-call counselor.

If you are experiencing an immediate mental health crisis, there are several resources you can utilize to find help as soon as possible. Many of these resources are crisis counseling hotlines staffed by mental health professionals who are trained in talking people through acute crisis situations.

In this article, we’ll be exploring the different resources available to you on short notice and how you can continue receiving long-term care should you need it.

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Mental health crisis hotlines

Crises can occur at any time of the day or night, so crisis counseling hotlines are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Many crisis hotlines in the United States are run by the federal government, while others may be supported by nonprofits and foundations focused on improving mental health. Some are staffed by trained counselors and mental health first responders who can provide acute mental health support, while others are staffed by volunteers who can connect callers to mental health resources.

Below is a list of crisis hotlines that are available at any time. Please note, however, that while many of these hotlines are free to call, some offer text services as well, and messages and rates may apply to such texts depending on your phone carrier and plan.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is run by the federal government and is toll-free. You can reach it by calling or texting 988. The Suicide And Crisis Lifeline provides free support for anyone experiencing suicidal ideation or another form of acute emotional distress. You can also call or text them if you’re worried that your loved one is in distress and aren’t sure how to help. The staff members that you speak with on the hotline can also provide resources related to suicide prevention.

If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7.

Crisis Text Line

The Crisis Text Line can provide support to individuals in situations relating to gun violence, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and self-harm. They may also act as a suicide crisis lifeline for assistance. To connect with a volunteer crisis counselor, text HOME to 741741.

Veterans Crisis Line

The Veterans Crisis Line is run by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of the staff members available through the hotline have served in the armed forces themselves and can provide peer-to-peer support with the challenges commonly associated with a history of service. The Veterans Crisis Line is available by calling 988 and pressing 1 or by texting 838255.

The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline

The SAMHSA National Helpline is run by the federal government and is free. The staff can provide information about mental health conditions and substance use disorders, including information on prevention and recovery, treatment referrals, and other resources. It is available by dialing 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357).

Disaster Distress Helpline

The Disaster Distress Helpline is run by the federal government. Callers who are experiencing emotional distress related to living through natural or human-caused disasters can access a trained crisis counselor with a background in providing support to those who have survived life-threatening situations. You can access the Disaster Distress Helpline by calling or texting 1-800-985-5990.

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YouthLine

With YouthLine, teenagers can access peer support from other teens (who are supervised by adults) during select hours. Youth can also connect with support from adults at any time. YouthLine is available by calling 1-877-968-8491 or texting “teen2teen” to 839863.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is intended to provide support to anyone who thinks that they or a loved one may be experiencing any form of abuse, whether emotional, physical, financial, or sexual (note: abuse does not have to fit a particular definition of “domestic violence”).

Staff at the hotline can connect callers to resources and support regarding safety within an abusive relationship. This can include offering advice and assistance to individuals who are leaving an abusive relationship or guiding them through emotional distress when they’re recovering from an abusive relationship. Staff members can also help people who are worried they might be abusive to their loved ones and are seeking help in shifting their behavior. You can access this hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), TTY 1-800-787-3224, or by texting “START” to 88788.

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is focused on providing professional support to those hoping to stop suspected child abuse. Staff are trained in over 170 languages and can connect callers to emergency resources and local social services departments. Those in need of support in this area can call or text 800-422-4453 to get connected to a staff member or by beginning a live chat on their website.

The Trevor Project Lifeline

The Trevor Project Lifeline provides crisis counseling and emotional support for young people who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is available by calling 866-488-7386, or by texting START to 678678.

Parental Stress Line

The Parental Stress Line is intended to provide nonjudgmental support to parents. It is staffed by trained volunteer counselors who can connect parents to information about resources in their local area to address parenting difficulties, as well as brainstorm ideas and solutions to parenting-related concerns. The Parental Stress Line can be accessed at 1-800-632-8188.

Thursday’s Child National Youth Advocacy Hotline

Thursday’s Child National Youth Advocacy Hotline provides immediate help and crisis support for parents and children. Their staff address issues including (but not limited to) bullying, exploitation, sexual health and safety, abuse, substance use, running away from home, and eating disorders. It is available by calling 1-800-USA-KIDS (1-800-872-5437) in the US or internationally at 1-818-831-1234.

Military Helpline

The Military Helpline is a crisis line designed to support members of the military who are actively serving, as opposed to veterans or those who have previously served. It is staffed by people who have served and people who are trained in supporting military-connected people and their families. Callers can learn about information and resources related to mental health and receive support to help them adjust between military and civilian life more efficiently. This hotline can be accessed at 1-888-457-4838. 

National Problem Gambling Helpline

The National Problem Gambling Helpline provides information, support, and resources related to gambling addiction and problem gambling. It is available by calling or texting 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-522-4700) or by beginning a live chat session on 1800gamblerchat.org.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Helpline

The MADD Helpline is intended to provide emotional support for people who have lost a loved one to a drunk driving accident. It is staffed 24/7 by staff and volunteers and is available by calling 1-877-MADD-HELP (1-877-623-3435). 

Boys Town National Hotline

The Boys Town National Hotline provides crisis support for children, youth, and families. From bullying to parenting issues and more, counselors are trained to offer resources and guidance for a variety of problems. Those in need can access this hotline by dialing 1-800-448-3000.

Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Program Hotline

The Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Program Hotline provides information, resources (including legal support and housing assistance), and intervention for survivors of domestic violence. It is available by calling 1-800-832-1901.

Finding ongoing mental health support online

In a mental health crisis, attending a therapy appointment may not be helpful or practical. Mental health hotlines such as those listed above may be the most accessible and beneficial version of mental health care in those specific situations. However, mental health symptoms and conditions may not be resolved after an acute intervention. If this is the case, ongoing mental health care, such as regularly speaking to a therapist, may be beneficial. 

Online therapy may be a form of continuing care that is more accessible and convenient, as you can attend therapy from the comfort of your own home. By connecting with a therapist through a platform like BetterHelp, you can begin getting the support you need through video chats, phone calls, or in-app messaging. With online therapy, you can access therapy for as little or as long as needed and switch providers at any time until you find the right fit. 

While online therapy may not be appropriate for immediate crisis situations, scientific research has demonstrated that it can have similar outcomes to traditional in-person therapy appointments when it comes to ongoing mental health care. One study found that completing online cognitive behavioral therapy resulted in a reduction of symptoms of a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, mood disorders, phobias, bipolar disorder, and more. CBT is a type of therapy that recognizes the link between one’s thoughts and actions. It can be helpful by teaching people how to replace their unhelpful thoughts with more positive ones, which can allow individuals to change their unwanted behaviors. 

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Takeaway

In a mental health crisis, immediate counseling and support services are sometimes required, meaning an individual may not be able to wait until a scheduled therapy session. A variety of 24/7 hotlines in the United States provide free counseling at any time to people in acute crisis situations. Whether you’re a veteran, a student, a parent, or belong to a marginalized community, there are several resources available that can offer assistance as needed. Some people may benefit from ongoing care to support their mental health. Online therapy can be a helpful resource for continuing to access the guidance you need, even after a crisis has subsided.
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