National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • 12-Sep-2022 to Until Filled (EST)
  • NAMI HelpLine
  • USA
  • Internship/Volunteer

Please note: this is a listing for an unpaid internship position.

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

The NAMI HelpLine is contacted over 70,000 times a year by people across the U.S. who are affected by mental health conditions and are 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, and social media posts, and by providing valuable information about mental health conditions and treatment options, NAMI education and support programs, and other mental health resources.

The HelpLine Specialist Experience

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 health conditions, treatment options and recovery strategies. They will also experience the appreciation and gratitude expressed by the individuals, families, and caregivers they serve.

The NAMI HelpLine is a peer support service; we do not stress in this application or in our interviews that the HelpLine Specialist role is meant for persons "currently in mental health recovery" or meant "to be a tool for mental health recovery," rather, the HelpLine Specialist role is only for those of lived experience that can expand a capacity for empathy, motivate a desire to help others, and at times serve as an aid for providing valuable perspectives to others.

Serving Remotely

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

Onboarding

Working with help seekers on the NAMI HelpLine is extremely rewarding, and yet at times, challenging. This requires a commitment to complete 20 hours of training within a three-week onboarding period designed to prepare you to confidently and positively address the diverse needs presented by help seekers. Throughout your onboarding experience, you will complete rewarding online instructional content, interactive exercises, knowledge checks and a final test prior to joining as a member of the NAMI HelpLine Specialist Team.

Minimum Time Commitment Requirements

Please note the following time commitment requirements:

A minimum of two, 4-hour shifts per week for a minimum duration of four months. Your four-month commitment serving on the HelpLine begins following the completion of training and onboarding.

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

Timeline for Internship

Internship training for the Spring 2023 semester will be available at the end of November 2022 and can be completed any time prior to the end of December 2022.

Interns begin serving on the HelpLine during January 2023 and serve on the HelpLine for 4 months, completing their commitment during the month of May 2023. Some interns choose to stay on as volunteers after completing their internship.

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 a direct messaging social media platform, and our staff participate daily in two available mid-day Zoom meetings (volunteers attend at least one meeting per week) to share experiences and information, and to answer questions. In addition, our staff routinely observe and provide coaching support throughout each HelpLine Specialist's time on HelpLine.

Professional Qualifications:

  • A student or professional of mental health, and/or someone with "lived," personal experience - either as a person living with a 'treated' 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 health conditions, 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 communicate 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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