Are you currently accepting volunteer applications?
Yes, we accept applications year round.
What are you looking for in a Text Line Volunteer?
The ideal Text Line Volunteer will be someone interested in the youth and young adult populations, and the issues that affect them. A baseline ability to identify feelings in oneself and others, and to empathize, is important, and a deep respect and regard for people in all walks of life. There is no specific experience necessary as we will train the skills needed.
Can I answer texts from home or off-site*?
No, we take all of our texts on-site at our call center. The reasoning for this requirement is two-fold. First, we need to protect the confidentiality of our clients, so we require that no client information leaves our site. We also want you to feel supported as a volunteer, so we make sure you have supervisors whom you can consult with whenever you need assistance or just need to process a difficult call. *Due to impacts of COVID-19, we have implemented technology that can allow counselors to continue to work confidentiality and remotely on a provisional basis.
Can I volunteer from out-of-state or outside of the United States?*
For the same reasons listed above, you must be able to commute to our site to volunteer with us. If you are interested in learning about crisis lines in your area, please go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website and click on Crisis Center/Center Locator to search by state. You can also check with your county. Most counties in the United States have Behavioral/Mental Health Departments, and they might have information on crisis lines in your area. *Due to the impacts of COVID-19, accommodations have been made to allow for remote work capabilities. However, we expect all interested applicants to live in California and be able to commute to our site for weekly volunteer commitments as needed.
Do I need to have counseling experience to volunteer?
No experience necessary. We have an extensive training program to prepare you to take texts.
What does training for the Text Line look like?
Text Line Volunteers attend classes during weekends, or a combination of weekend and evening trainings. Volunteers also attend training shifts in small groups, and one-on-one with a trainer. In addition to learning best practices in suicide prevention, Text Line Volunteers also receive training focused on youth and young adult issues. This includes bullying, depression, non-suicidal self-injury, issues surrounding identity, and more. Instruction also includes active listening, motivational interviewing, and counselor self-care and self-awareness. Once trained there will be ongoing learning, including access to individual support and supervision.
What is the time commitment after completing training?
We ask for a commitment of one weekly shift between 4:00pm and 11:00pm for a year, with a minimum of 52 shifts. Shifts can be as short as 4 hours or as long as 7 hours, depending on the volunteers’ desires and availability. Of course, we love volunteers to stay longer than one year if they like!
What are some of the Text Line Volunteer duties?
While on shift, volunteers will work as part of a team and have the support of a shift supervisor and other counselors while they are taking texts. We use a software platform provided by Educational Message Services to engage with texters – this means we are on a computer and not exhausting our thumbs on a tiny screen! Ideally, fully trained Text Line Volunteers will also assist in training new volunteers.
Optional additional duties: Text Line Volunteers can assist with generating reports on text sessions, spreading the word about the service, researching youth issues for training purposes, and other projects as desired by the volunteer.
Thank you again for your interest!