SF launches peer-staffed phone, chat service for mental health support 

San Francisco residents seeking emotional support now have access to a free mental health hotline staffed by those who have personal experience with mental health issues.

Nearly 200 people have called the Mental Health Triage Warm Line since its soft launch Aug. 4, said Michael Gause, deputy director of the nonprofit organization Mental Health Association of San Francisco, which operates the line and is expected to run the service 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the beginning of next year.

The Warm Line differs from The City's 24-hour Suicide Prevention Hotline and Access Helpline for referrals to mental health services in that it's staffed by peer counselors who have experienced mental health conditions themselves or among family members. It's the first Warm Line in San Francisco to offer assistance from peers.

"Let's say it's at 10 o'clock at night, and [someone] needs some reassurance, some conversation, a warm voice on the other end to just really listen to them and help them settle down," explained Jo Robinson, director of behavioral health for the Department of Public Health, of how the Warm Line will be used.

"People feel very comfortable talking to someone on the line who may have had a similar experience to them," Gause said.

The Warm Line is operated by the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, and funded by a $1.2 million three-year grant from the state Mental Services Act. It is currently taking calls from noon to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Call if you need help

How to contact the Warm Line and other health resources:

Mental Health Triage Warm Line: (855) 845-7415

Warm Line chat online:


Suicide Prevention Hotline:

(415) 781-0500

Mental Health Access Helpline: (415) 255-3737

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for Patch.com, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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