Often, when someone calls the helpline, they are in a moment of crisis. They may be suicidal, battling mental health issues, or in the grip of addiction.
The person they talk to is either a counselor or volunteer, and many helplines also offer peer support where callers can connect with people who have gone through similar situations. This type of connection can be very comforting and can help the caller see that they are not alone.
A good crisis hotline worker is nonjudgmental and empathetic. They will listen to the caller, ask open-ended questions that can help them process their emotions and situation, and offer practical advice. They may also suggest a safe place to go or a group of people they can reach out to.
In addition to being a great listener, a crisis hotline worker needs to have the right temperament for the job. The work can be emotionally draining, especially if call-takers are dealing with their own problems and need to deescalate emotional crises over and over again. This can lead to burnout and compassion fatigue. To combat these symptoms, workers should make sure they get enough sleep, eat healthy, and take time for self-care.
When it comes to helping others, a good crisis hotline worker will have extensive training and a strong work ethic. They will need to be able to work remotely and cover shifts as needed, as well as be able to work on flexible hours. In addition, they will need to have a solid understanding of suicide prevention, substance abuse, and mental health.