California launches statewide mental health ‘warm line’

YREKA, Calif. — It’s Mental Health Awareness Day, a day bringing attention to the millions across the United States affected by mental illness.

This week, California has launched its first statewide mental health phone line that’s free to use. The warm line, as it’s being called, will be staffed for most of the day to start but the hope is that it will eventually be a 24/7 service.

Siskiyou County Behavioral Health Services says the phone line will provide that extra support someone may need before a mental health crisis turns critical.

Clinical Director, Tracie Lima, says calls from someone experiencing a mental health crisis can vary.

“I don’t know what to do, my spouse or significant other is out of control, we’re not feeling safe,” she said, citing a few examples.

The outpatient facility responds to roughly 80 to 100 crisis interventions every month, which are people in need of immediate psychological care.

“Often that person that’s truly having a mental health episode is experiencing that internally,” she said.

However, Lema says not every mental health crisis needs an urgent response.

“Really it can run the gamut between exceptional suicidal and homicidal to what we call grave disability which is I’m just so distraught, I can’t take care of my needs,” she said.

Lema’s facility serves over 1,000 adults and children every year.

She sees a new statewide mental health phone line as a huge win for California.

“There are millions of people in the world who have mental health conditions that may ever rise to the level that we treat,” said Lema.

She says it may even help to break the stigma behind mental illness.

“And not judge or stigmatize or maybe take a moment to understand they may be going through something and maybe being open and listening… may save their life,” she said.

The phone line first launched in San Francisco.

According to its website, the phone line has already had over 28,000 calls and chats a day averaging to 2,000 per month.

You can reach the new ‘warm line’ in California by calling 1-855-845-7415.

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