100 Evidence Based Tips to be an Effective Helpie Responder

Tips on Understanding and Connection
  • Active Listening: Focus fully on the caller, understanding their feelings, and refraining from judgment.
  • Empathize: Convey empathy without sounding overly sympathetic.
  • Reassure Privacy: Assure confidentiality within the legal and ethical guidelines.
  • Avoid Interruptions: Let the caller finish speaking before you respond.
  • Speak Calmly: Maintain a calm and soothing tone of voice.
  • Avoid Medical Jargon: Use simple language that the caller can understand.
  • Build Trust: Show genuine concern and interest.
  • Offer Hope: Instill a sense of hope without making promises.
  • Validate Feelings: Acknowledge the caller’s feelings as real and valid.
  • Don’t Argue or Challenge: Avoid challenging their perceptions or feelings.
Tips on Assessment and Information Gathering
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage the caller to share more.
  • Identify the Crisis: Determine the nature and severity of the crisis.
  • Assess Safety: Ask about any immediate threats or plans for self-harm.
  • Determine Support System: Inquire about friends, family, or other support.
  • Check Substance Use: Sensitively inquire about the involvement of substances.
  • Identify Triggers: Find out what might have triggered the crisis.
  • Assess Previous Help: Ask about previous mental health interventions or treatments.
  • Gather Basic Information: Collect essential information without becoming overly intrusive.
Tips on Intervention and Support
  • Provide Resources: Share appropriate resources like local mental health services.
  • Empower Decision Making: Encourage them to make decisions about their care.
  • Suggest Breathing Exercises: If appropriate, guide them in deep breathing or grounding exercises.
  • Avoid False Assurances: Be honest without making unattainable promises.
  • Encourage Professional Help: Stress the importance of seeking professional care.
  • Avoid Giving Personal Opinions: Stick to the facts and evidence-based guidance.
  • Guide to Support System: Encourage connection with friends or family who can provide support.
  • Acknowledge Courage: Praise them for seeking help.
  • Stay Solution-Focused: Offer practical solutions without delving into deep analysis.
  • Avoid Patronizing Tone: Respect their intelligence and experience.
Follow-Up and Collaboration
  • Offer Follow-Up: If appropriate, offer to follow up or connect them with ongoing support.
  • Coordinate with Professionals: With consent, involve mental health professionals if needed.
  • Refer to Specialized Services: Refer to relevant support services or hotlines.
  • Document the Call: Maintain clear and confidential records as per the guidelines.
  • Involve Authorities if Necessary: If immediate danger is present, follow the protocols for involving authorities.
  • Practice Patience: Allow the caller to move at their own pace.
  • Avoid Diagnosing: Leave diagnoses to mental health professionals.
  • Use Silence Effectively: Silence can allow the caller to gather thoughts.
  • Avoid Personal Stories: Keep the focus on the caller.
  • Offer Alternatives: If appropriate, provide different options for support.
Self-Care for the Responder
  • Know Your Limits: Recognize when you need to refer to a higher authority.
  • Practice Self-Care: Engage in regular self-care practices to avoid burnout.
  • Seek Supervision: Regularly consult with supervisors or experienced peers.
  • Reflect on Calls: Reflect on what went well and what could be improved.
  • Stay Educated: Continuously update yourself with the latest best practices.
  • Build a Network: Collaborate with other helplines and support networks.
  • Promote Self-Care: Encourage the caller to engage in self-care activities.
Special Considerations for Different Types of Calls
  • Youth Calls: Be extra patient and gentle, understanding their unique perspective.
  • Elderly Calls: Recognize the unique challenges that aging might bring.
  • Calls with Substance Abuse: Emphasize safety and encourage professional medical assistance.
  • Calls from the LGBTQ+ Community: Display sensitivity to their unique needs and challenges.
  • Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Calls: Focus on safety and harm reduction strategies.
Crisis-Specific Approaches
  • Suicidal Thoughts: Assess risk and follow specific protocols for suicide prevention.
  • Panic Attacks: Encourage slow breathing and grounding techniques.
  • Grief and Loss: Acknowledge their pain and offer support without clich├ęs.
  • Depression Calls: Offer encouragement and guidance to professional help.
  • Anxiety Calls: Focus on present-moment awareness and calming strategies.
  • Avoid Controversial Topics: Steer away from topics that may escalate the situation.
  • Clarify Misconceptions: Gently correct any misconceptions about mental health.
  • Use Positive Language: Frame things in a positive light when possible.
Enhancing Communication Skills
  • Use Reflective Listening: Reflect back what you hear for clarity.
  • Ask Clarifying Questions: Make sure you understand the caller’s needs and feelings.
  • Maintain Cultural Sensitivity: Recognize and respect cultural differences.
  • Avoid Fillers like ‘I Understand’: Instead, show understanding through your responses.
  • Use their Name Occasionally: It can build a connection without overdoing it.
  • Follow a Structured Protocol: Adhere to the protocol established by the helpline.
  • Be Transparent: Clearly explain what you can and cannot do.
Technology Considerations
  • Ensure Good Connection: If possible, ensure a clear phone or video connection.
  • Be Mindful of Background Noise: Minimize distractions and noises on your end.
  • Have Resources Handy: Keep a list of local resources readily available.
  • Know the Technology: Familiarize yourself with any technology used in the process.
  • Utilize a Team Approach: Collaborate with team members when needed.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Follow Legal Guidelines: Be aware of and follow all legal requirements.
  • Adhere to Ethical Standards: Follow the ethical guidelines for mental health support.
  • Avoid Over-Identification: Keep professional boundaries and avoid over-identifying with the caller.
  • Know the Community Resources: Be familiar with local support and mental health resources.
  • Avoid Being Directive: Guide rather than instruct.
  • Recognize When to End the Call: Know when the call has reached a conclusion and how to end it appropriately.
  • Monitor Your Feelings: Be aware of your feelings and reactions during the call.
  • Be Prepared for Various Emotions: Expect and handle a wide range of emotions from the caller.
  • Understand Different Mental Health Disorders: Have a basic understanding of common mental health issues.
  • Acknowledge their Reality: Respect their perspective and feelings, even if they differ from yours.
  • Follow Organizational Guidelines: Abide by the specific guidelines and training provided by your organization.
  • Set Personal Boundaries: Understand what you are comfortable with and stick to those boundaries.
  • Use Therapeutic Communication Techniques: Employ techniques like summarizing, paraphrasing, etc.
  • Respect Individual Preferences: Tailor your approach to the individual’s needs and preferences.
  • Emphasize Immediate Needs: Focus on addressing immediate needs rather than long-term solutions.
  • Be Cautious with Humor: Use humor only when clearly appropriate and in line with the caller’s mood.
  • Follow a Risk Assessment Model: Adhere to a structured model for assessing risks, especially for suicidal ideation.
  • Use Visual Aids if Applicable: In video calls, visual aids might be helpful for explaining concepts.
  • Recognize Your Influence: Understand the impact you can have on the caller’s emotions.
  • Follow Up with Supervisors: Regularly discuss calls and seek guidance from supervisors.
  • Incorporate Caller’s Strengths: Recognize and build upon the caller’s existing strengths.
  • Maintain Professionalism: Uphold a professional demeanor throughout the call.
  • Provide Writing Materials if Needed: In some cases, providing writing materials for notes may be helpful.
  • Emphasize Connection: Stress the importance of staying connected to supportive individuals in their life.
  • Provide Crisis Line Information: Offer information on 24/7 crisis lines if appropriate.
  • Recognize Your Role: Understand that you are a vital support, not a substitute for professional care.
  • Promote Wellness Activities: Encourage wellness activities like exercise, sleep, and healthy eating.
  • Adapt to the Caller’s Needs: Be flexible and adapt to the unique needs and situations of each caller.
  • Stay Committed to Continuous Learning: Continually seek training and education to improve your skills and knowledge.
  • Stay Committed to Continuous Learning: Continually seek training and education to improve your skills and knowledge.