This Free Mental Health Resource Has Been Saving Lives for Years. Now, It Could Lose Funding

Mental health care can often be expensive and, unfortunately, unattainable. Whether the therapists in our area are booked up, or our health insurance company is playing games — the lack of access can feel insurmountable, exacerbating the underlying reasons one needs help in the first place!

But getting help with mental health should be a basic human right; something everyone can easily access. Especially in light of the pandemic and the gaps it's revealed in our health care system.

That's why resources like the California Peer-Run Warm Line are so important. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Warm Line is a phone- and text-based service. It's open to all 39.5 million residents in California. And best of all, it's 100% free of charge.

Californians have been flocking to the resource because it is a pivotal tool for folks coping with the difficulties of life. There is no doubt about it: the Warm Line has become a life-line, and it's critical that California lawmakers continue to fund it.

From the summer of 2019 to the winter of 2021, peer counselors at the Warm Line responded to nearly 180,000 calls and chats — reaching around 12,000 calls and chats in March 2021 alone. Callers are wanting to access the Warm Line now more than ever. But if we don't act soon, callers won't get more access; they'll get less. So far, California lawmakers have failed to re-fund this extremely important and popular project. Those who run the Warm Line were dependent upon its inclusion in the California budget, but unfortunately, that did not occur.

Sign the petition to demand California lawmakers continue to fund this vital and heavily-used mental health resource!

Around three years ago, the Warm Line was struggling for funding and had to rely on a team composed primarily of volunteers to keep the service running. Despite the fact that the line was only open for limited hours and only served the Bay Area, demand for its services was overflowing. That's why, in 2019, California lawmakers granted the Warm Line a $10.8 million budget to dramatically expand its operations and hire paid staff over the course of three years.

That three-year budget ends this summer. If additional funding is not provided immediately, the Warm Line and all the callers who rely on it could face sudden crises.

No new funding could also lead to a costly increase in people turning to emergency services instead. Acting as a "pre-hotline," the Warm Line offers emotional support to individuals before their life situations escalate to a crisis-level. Without this type of preventative emotional care, callers would be left on their own — or be forced to turn to hospital Emergency Departments, urgent care clinics, and 9-1-1 calls. The Warm LIne is preventive medicine at its best!

California lawmakers must recognize this is not the time to drop the ball on accessible mental health care options. The pandemic has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that overwhelming demand exists for affordable therapeutic services, especially with depression and anxiety skyrocketing over the past two years. The Warm Line and other mental health resources need more funding, not sudden cuts.

Don't let the clock run out on providing zero-cost, accessible mental health care for all! The California state legislature MUST continue to fund the California Peer-Run Warm Line and expand its budget. That way, this not-for-profit resource can continue to keep up with the growing demand for mental health care services — rather than leave people out in the dark.

We can't desert 39.5 million Californians and deprive them of a mental health service that has become essential — especially during the pandemic and whatever new challenges lay in store for 2022. Sign the petition now!
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