Are you currently accepting volunteer applications?
Yes, we accept applications year round. Training cohorts often fill up quickly, so consider submitting your application as soon as possible.
Can I answer calls from home or off-site?
No, we take all of our calls 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.
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.
Do I need to have counseling experience to volunteer?
No experience necessary. We have an extensive, free 90-hour training program to prepare you to take calls.
What does your ideal volunteer candidate look like?
Volunteers should be naturally empathetic, dedicated, and able to work in a fast-paced environment. Basic computer skills are a must. Beyond that we are looking for a diverse range of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. Second language fluency is a bonus, but not required.
When is the training?
For 2019, we are offering two large training cohorts starting on January & September. We are also offering smaller training cohorts in March, April, June, & July. Please email us for the full training schedule for the cohort you are interested in.
What does the training look like?
The training lasts for 3-4 months and consists of two major components – an in-class lecture/discussion and working one-on-one with a trainer on the crisis lines.
(1) The in class component either occurs on a Saturday and a Sunday, once a month, from 9 AM-4 PM with a one-hour break for lunch (large cohort model) OR on weekday evenings from 6:30 pm-9:30 pm on Mon/Wed or Tues/Thurs. Please request current schedules by email for up-to-date information.
(2) The one-on-one training is once a week for four hours. We
will work with your schedule to pair you with a trainer. While working with your trainer, you will be taking calls and practicing all the tools and theory you learn in the classes.
How much time do you expect volunteers to give after training?
In total we ask that you volunteer for a minimum of 60 total shifts, working one 4 hour shift per week. The 60 shift commitment includes your on-shift training time. Naturally, we expect that you’ll take vacations or need time off, so a total of 60 shifts is the benchmark for completing your commitment, and any missed shifts can be made up.
I need a letter of recommendation for graduate school. How long do I need to volunteer before you can write me one?
We require that you complete 50 total shifts before we can accommodate requests for letters of recommendation. In this case, both training and post-graduation shifts count toward the required total.
Do you offer internships?
Currently, our interns are graduate students who have progressed far enough through their degree programs to start obtaining hours for licensure. Interns can apply to the Clinical program through our application.
What other volunteer opportunities are available?
Teens for Life accepts volunteers to do suicide prevention presentations in local middle and high schools. All Teens for Life volunteers must have completed the Crisis Line training and have some experience on the Crisis Line.
We also offer opportunities to volunteer at single-day events. For more information about helping out with these events, please contact our Development Assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I volunteer with you for college course credit?
We review requests for volunteering for course credit on a case by case basis. You must be willing to commit to one year of volunteering. Please contact ust with specific requests.
Do you have a minimum age requirement for volunteering on the Crisis Line?
Yes, our minimum age requirement is 21 years or older.
Where are you located?
We are in Oakland, CA, and conveniently located near public transit. We have on-site parking and secure bike parking. The specific details of our site location are confidential.
I’ve called Crisis Support Services for help and am interested in volunteering. Can I do that?
We strongly suggest that callers of our crisis line consider volunteering with a different crisis line in the area so that they can maintain the use of our services. Even if you are not currently in need of our services, we want you to be able to turn to us for support should you need it in the future. We require that all volunteers have at least a year without calling us to apply to the crisis line.
Ok, all of this makes sense, what do I do next?
Our volunteer hiring process flows like this: submit an application -> phone interview -> reference checks -> in-person interview -> on boarding paperwork -> join next available training cohort
If you have any other questions not addressed here, please email our Training Coordinator at email@example.com.