A few months ago, before The Moody Mom was hatched, I was looking for a volunteer gig where I could take what I’d learned from my own experience with mental illness and help others. I heard about a text crisis line. So I signed up to become a volunteer crisis counselor.
For the text crisis line, text the message “hello” to the number 741741. A trained counselor will respond anytime 24/7. You can text about anything. It’s free.
Just the application was rigorous. They want volunteers who had experience, were dedicated, and could work at least one middle of the night shift per week. I was accepted and started on my 30 hour self guided training.
The first training module was on what you say when a person first texts and tells you they have a problem. What I learned was that everything I thought I knew about what to say was wrong! For example, they tell you they are depressed. Here’s what not to say:
- Why are you depressed?
- What happened?
- But you seem fine.
- You shouldn’t be depressed
- We all have problems. Just buck up!
- Here’s what you should do….
- (Spiritual people) God doesn’t want you to be depressed
Unless you are a trained (as in professional) therapist, avoid giving advice. Why? Because their problem is much bigger that what they were able to express to you in a few sentences. You do not know enough about their situation to give advice. It could be harmful. And no one wants to feel belittled, so never say they shouldn’t be depressed or SMILE! Here’s what you should say:
- It sounds like you’re really struggling
- I’m so sorry you’re going through this
- I’m here to listen
- Tell me more about how you feel
- I understand
- (Spiritual people) Would you like me to pray with you?
- It’s ok to feel sad
After the 2 hour training module there was a test. You get two chances to pass. Guess who flunked it both times? I decided I wasn’t cut out to be a crisis counselor. Plus staying up all night didn’t sound very realistic to this sleep-lover.