Volunteer at Crisis Text Line

This information is for our service in the United States. If you have any questions throughout the application process, email admissions@crisistextline.org and someone will get back to you!

Volunteer Terms of Service & Privacy PolicyCode of Conduct

Become a Volunteer Crisis Counselor

Our volunteer Crisis Counselors work remotely, on their computers, answering texts from people in crisis. Volunteers create a dialogue with texters who are looking for help, de-escalating the crisis at hand and providing compassionate, non-judgmental support using active listening, collaborative problem-solving, and safety planning. Through this vital support, volunteer Crisis Counselors make a positive impact on the mental health journeys of those in need. 

Free Crisis Counselor Training

To become a Crisis Counselor volunteer, you will need to complete our free online mental health training. Over the course of 15 hours, you will learn reflective listening, collaborative problem-solving, and crisis management. You can train anywhere—in your PJs, in a coffee shop, whatever works for you! After completing training, our volunteer Crisis Counselors commit to volunteering four hours per week until 200 hours are reached. Ideally, we expect you to fulfill your 200-hours volunteering commitment within one year. 

Mental health training is an essential part of becoming a volunteer Crisis Counselor at Crisis Text Line. Our volunteers must be equipped with the skills and knowledge to effectively support those in need, so our mental health training is built to help you better understand the complex nature of different mental health concerns. It provides volunteer Crisis Counselors with techniques for managing difficult emotions and behaviors, and for promoting positive practices that contribute to overall well-being. With this training, volunteer Crisis Counselors are given the tools to offer evidence-based interventions and provide compassionate, effective, and high-quality care to texters who seek their support.

While the training will teach you how to help others, Crisis Text Line’s mental health volunteering also offers tremendous value at an individual level. In fact, two thirds of our volunteers use the skills they learn through our training to deal with their own emotional well-being because it provides them with the knowledge and tools necessary to manage difficult situations. You can also learn how to recognize and manage your own stress, anxiety, depression and develop coping skills and positive habits that promote resilience and emotional wellness.

Sign up to volunteer and start your free mental health training

Benefits of Becoming a Volunteer Crisis Counselor

Advocate for Mental Health Care in the Wider Community

As the US faces an ongoing mental health crisis, it is essential to increase awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding these issues. Through mental health volunteering and training, we are equipped with the knowledge to create a community that prioritizes mental health and well-being and promotes a culture of awareness and non-judgmental support. This will ensure that everyone has access to the compassionate resources they need to achieve and maintain their emotional well-being.

Learn Strategies to Strengthen Your Own Mental Health

Becoming a volunteer Crisis Counselor not only helps others but also provides opportunities for individuals to enhance their own well-being. By learning tools for identifying and managing mental health concerns, you’ll increase your own self-awareness and emotional intelligence and develop critical problem-solving and decision-making skills. You’ll learn to recognize and manage stress, anxiety, and depression through positive coping mechanisms. You’ll also improve your communication skills, understanding how to effectively support others through active listening and thoughtfully communicate your own feelings. 

Volunteer from Home

Many of us want to make a positive impact on others, but don’t have the means to support a busy volunteering schedule. One of the key benefits of becoming a volunteer Crisis Counselor is the ability to volunteer from home. Since Crisis Text Line offers a 24/7 service, you can volunteer during times that work best for your schedule, making it easy to balance your work life, volunteer life, and personal life. Volunteering from home also eliminates transportation costs and saves time spent commuting, creating a much more flexible approach to volunteering.

Spanish Volunteer Opportunities

Crisis Text Line offers bilingual support in English and Spanish, making mental health assistance more accessible to the large population of Spanish speakers in the US. Our Spanish volunteer opportunities are for people who are fluent in written Spanish, so that they can act as a volunteer Crisis Counselor supporting Spanish speakers in need. You can have a significant impact on texters across the country through our Spanish volunteer opportunities, providing free and compassionate mental health care for community members that might otherwise have difficulty accessing care. By volunteering in Spanish, you can exercise your language skills while providing vital support to individuals in need. 

What Is Crisis Text Line Volunteering Like?

Want to know what it’s like to volunteer at Crisis Text Line? Many of our volunteers aren’t sure what to expect when they start their first shift, but by the end of their 200-hour volunteering commitment they have a completely new perspective on mental health and a host of useful tools and approaches for managing mental health crises. 

All of our volunteers learn these skills:

  • Non-judgmental communication
  • Active listening
  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Safety planning

During a volunteer shift, you are also supported by a trained Supervisor who is always there to answer your questions and help if you ever feel overwhelmed. 

Check out some testimonials from our volunteers to hear in their own words how Crisis Text Line has empowered them and positively impacted their lives.

I volunteer for Crisis Text Line because practicing empathy and reflective listening makes me a better friend, partner, and employee.

Time Commitment & Hours

Our greatest need for volunteer Crisis Counselors is between 7pm and 3am PT (10pm and 6am ET). Volunteer Crisis Counselors commit to volunteering 4 hours per week until 200 hours are reached. Ideally, we expect you to fulfill your 200-hour commitment within one year. Before you begin as a volunteer counselor, you’ll also complete our comprehensive, 15-hour free online mental health training. During this period you will gain all the expertise and tools you need to successfully and empathetically navigate crisis intervention.

This Mental Health Crisis Counseling training is effective, comprehensive, and completely free for our volunteers. It costs Crisis Text Line $1,008 to train each volunteer Crisis Counselor. This investment in training is critical to delivering a high-quality service, so we look for volunteers who are committed to completing the whole training and their 200-hours of volunteer service.

Volunteer Opportunities for College Students

Crisis Text Line is an excellent volunteer opportunity for young people ages 18 and older who are just starting their journey in the mental health field. As a volunteer, individuals have the opportunity to provide emotional support to those who are in crisis and need immediate help. This opportunity allows young people to gain valuable experience in mental health while also making a significant impact on the lives of those in need. In working alongside volunteers who are also social workers, therapists, and psychiatrists, young people can further develop their emotional awareness and crisis management skills, which can be useful in any future career.

Become a Campus Advocate

Looking for a different way to volunteer as a college student? You can become a Crisis Text Line Campus Advocate. In this position, you’ll be an ambassador for Crisis Text Line and its compassionate approach to crisis-related mental health care. If meaningful mental health care matters to you, this is an amazing opportunity to spread the word and ensure everyone – especially young people – have access to life-saving resources.

Last year, nearly 800 students all across the country joined us to take a stand for mental health on their college or university campus. This year will be even bigger. Let’s grow our community and build a more empathetic world together.

Become a Campus Advocate

How Do I Become a Volunteer Crisis Counselor?

So you’re ready to take the next steps and start your journey as a volunteer Crisis Counselor? Amazing! We’re thrilled to have you. Before you get started, make sure you have access to reliable internet and a personal computer. We accept applications on a rolling basis and begin new training cohorts weekly, but space is limited so get started today.

The Process:

Step 1
Complete the Crisis Counselor application (it should take around 20 minutes). Accepted applicants will be contacted with instructions to register for a training cohort.

Step 2
Complete the 15-hour web-based, self-paced crisis counseling and intervention training. This free training program includes: video modules that cover (a) specific skills such as active listening, (b) issues such as self-harm, suicide, depression, bullying, and LGBTQ issues; as well as quizzes, role plays, and observation shifts. 

Our training has been vetted by representatives from national organizations like American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Throughout training, each individual is fully supported by a Learning Specialist, who will be there every step of the way to answer questions, provide feedback, and offer additional information as needed.

Training cohorts are two weeks in length, and we estimate will take about 15 hours. Accepted applicants should evaluate their personal commitments and needs when selecting the cohort dates that best suit their schedule.

The completion of a background check is also a part of the training process. Crisis Text Line uses fair and narrowly tailored criteria to individually assess an applicant’s potential impact on the privacy, safety, and integrity of the community and the texters we serve, subject to applicable law. To learn more, view the Volunteer Terms of Service & Privacy Policy, which contains more information on how we strive to protect the safety of our texters and our volunteer community, click here

Step 3
Take your first counseling shift and start changing lives!

Being a Crisis Counselor teaches me so much around believing in hope, trusting the process, and deepening compassion — for others and for myself.
Need to vent?

Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a volunteer Crisis Counselor

Free confidential 24/7 support at your fingertips.

Data insights, news, and more straight to your inbox.