Mental Health America of Virginia offers free peer-run phone line

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 6:02 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA- In launching NBC12′s new “Managing Your Mental Health” segment, we want to make sure we are highlighting valuable resources for you to take advantage of in the RVA community and beyond.

One of those resources is called Mental Health America of Virginia. MHAV is the oldest mental health advocacy organization in the state.

Its Warm Line is one of its primary ways of supporting the community. The Warm Line is a peer-run service free for Virginia residents.

It’s essentially a step below a “hotline” designed to be used before a situation escalates into a crisis.

Melissa Hammack is an on-call support specialist for the MHAV ‘Warm Line.’

“I’ve been a peer recovery specialist for about 2 and a half years,” Hammack tells NBC12.

When it comes to mental health, for Hammack, the journey is personal.

”I have my own lived experience with mental health,” Hammack says.

Hammack is not alone. According to the CDC, one in five Americans will experience a mental illness in any given year.

“All of the people who staff the Warm Line are people with lived experience with mental health, substance use or both,” says David Rockwell.

He’s the team lead and a peer specialist for the MHAV Warm Line.

The way it works is easy. If you feel you are struggling, you pick up the phone, dial 1-866-400-6428 (MHAV), and instantly connect to someone who has been in your shoes before.

“Most people just really need to feel heard,” Hammack adds.

One of the best parts of the Warm Line is that it’s completely free.

“It’s a place for people to call if they need to have someone support them and listen to them if they just need to talk. We just do a lot of listening,” Rockwell said.

So before things reach crisis level, when you would take advantage of something like a hotline, the Warm Line is there to get you the help you need.

“You could talk about anything that’s on your mind. We get everything from mental health issues to people wanting to vent about their day, to relationship issues,” says Erica Bullock, the Warm Line manager.

The peer support specialists know first-hand that one small phone call could be the first step to feeling relief.

“It has the potential to save lives. Please use us as a resource. Please call us. We are here. We care,” Hammack finishes.

Another great thing about the Warm Line is it’s now offered in Spanish! If you or someone you know could use the services provided by these mental health advocates, please call 1-866-400-6428 (MHAV).