24/7 crisis line sees changes in callers


During the time of social distancing, medical care through video and phone calls are becoming essential, however, a 24/ 7 crisis line by the state has been working with people through issues over the phone for almost two decades.

The Crisis Line of Hawaii is completely free and its staffed day and night, the Crisis Line Supervisor, Belinda Danielson, said the COVID-19 pandemic has not increased the number of callers, but the type of caller has changed.

“They’re worried about where the next paycheck is coming from, they are worried if they will be able to pay their rent, they are worried where they are going to get food,” Danielson said. “Those kinds of topics are new to us.”

Danielson said many of the calls used to be related to mental health or homelessness issues. Now, calls are coming in from the general public who are worried about their livelihood.

Danielson said, “These are our working-class citizens, so it’s those folks who are calling in now who normally don’t deal with these challenges and are now being faced with those.”

She said the number of callers remains the same, and she suspects an increase of COVID-19 helplines may be helping with the demand, such as the federal ‘Disaster Distress Helpline‘.   

While medical providers such as Hawaii Medical Service Association are also offering remote mental health services online for members, Senior Vice President, Jennifer Diesman said in the governor’s press conference.

Diesman said, “We want to make sure that you know there are over 400 mental health professionals available for services as well.”

While Danielson said people could reach the crisis line counselors at any time, people who live on Oahu may dial, 832-3100, neighbor islands may call, 1-800-753-6879.

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