I Answer the Phone at a Mental Health Hotline. Here’s What I’ve Learned.
“Oh my, you picked up the phone.”
The caller sounded genuinely surprised and held her breath for a moment before telling her story. For more than a year, she and her husband had been largely trapped in their home by their 25-year-old son, who suffered from psychotic episodes. He refused any treatment, he had been making threats, and most nights he holed up in his room doing drugs while his parents tried to sleep behind their double-locked bedroom door.
“Is there someone who can come out to help us?” she said. “I mean, what do we do?”
I didn’t have a quick answer. It was my first call at a brand-new volunteer job.
When a family is upended by a suicidal son, a bulimic daughter, addiction or psychosis, it’s a rare person who knows whom to call for help or even how to ask. Try searching online, and you’ll no doubt find an assortment of out-of-date directories, random advice and dicey-looking services that may or may not provide what’s advertised.