National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • 27-Jan-2021 to Until Filled (EST)
  • NAMI HelpLine
  • Arlington, VA, USA
  • Internship/Volunteer

Are you interested in making a meaningful difference in people's lives?

The NAMI HelpLine is contacted over 200,000 times a year by people across the U.S. who are affected by mental illness and in need of help. HelpLine Information and Resource Referral Specialists provide a vital service to the NAMI community by responding with empathy to inquiries by phone, SMS/chat, email, written correspondence, social media posts, and by providing information about mental health conditions and treatment options, NAMI education and support programs, and other mental health resources.

NAMI HelpLine Specialists help individuals and families improve their lives and advance recovery by listening to their concerns and connecting them with essential resources and services. They extend empathy, understanding, respect and emotional support to everyone contacting the NAMI HelpLine. In return, as volunteers they will develop a deep understanding of the mental health landscape, mental illnesses, treatment options and recovery strategies. They will also experience the appreciation and gratitude expressed by the individuals, families and caregivers they serve.

Serving Remotely

Currently, all HelpLine Specialists are working from their homes and connecting with help seekers using NAMI's cloud-based communications platform by computer-based phone, web chat and text. Volunteers are required to have access to a computer with the most-recent operating system (Mac or PC) as well as high-speed internet.

Training

Working with callers to the NAMI HelpLine is extremely rewarding and at times, challenging. It requires a commitment to learning, and our extensive training is designed to prepare you to address the many needs being presented by help seekers. The training consists of a total of 45 hours to be completed prior to the start of your first shift, including 30 hours of independent learning over a 3-week period, followed by 3 days of virtual training coaching sessions with HelpLine staff. The independent learning portion is a combination of online learning modules and independent reading, as well as viewing of streaming online videos and documentaries. The 3 days of Staff-supported online virtual coaching sessions are conducted during the 4th week over a series of Zoom meetings and are @ 2-3 hours in the morning and afternoon. All training is completed prior to the start of the volunteer commitment to serving our callers on the HelpLine.

Minimum Time Commitment Requirements

Volunteers - a minimum of one, 4-hour shift per week, for a minimum duration of six months

All shifts must be fulfilled during regular HelpLine hours within Shift #1: 10am - 2pm; Shift #2: 2 - 6pm; or Shift #3: 4-8pm Mon-Fri, Eastern Standard Time.

Ongoing Support

The NAMI HelpLine team strives to create a supportive "virtual" community for our volunteers!  Ongoing support is provided throughout each shift via cloud-based technology and social media, and our staff and volunteers participate daily in two mid-day Zoom meetings to share experiences and information, and to answer questions. 

Professional Qualifications:

  • A student or professional of mental health, and/or someone with "lived," personal experience- either as a person living with a mental health condition or as someone caring for a loved one living with a mental health condition.
  • Excellent communication skills (oral and written), particularly in listening and ability to convey a respectful, empathetic tone, over the phone, email, or SMS/chat communication.
  • Analytical ability with problem-solving skills and resourcefulness for assessing a help seeker's needs and finding correct resources in a timely manner.
  • Basic knowledge of mental illnesses, treatments, recovery, and mental health care systems with an interest in learning more.
  • Ability to conduct basic internet research quickly while simultaneously managing a phone conversation or SMS/Chat session.
  • Verbal bilingual English/Spanish ability strongly welcomed.

Personal Qualities:

  • Demonstrated reliability, professionalism, and punctuality.
  • Respect and compassion for people affected by mental health conditions with desire to help.
  • Ability to manage emotionally stressful situations with positive spirit and open-mindedness.
  • Passion to learn about mental health conditions, resources, and behavioral health system.
  • Willingness to take initiative to seek help when needed, and ability to accept and implement constructive feedback.
  • Maturity and patience to communication effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences while demonstrating empathy to facilitate respectful dialogue with callers experiencing emotional distress or active psychosis.

National Alliance on Mental Illness
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