National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • 03-Dec-2020 to Until Filled (EST)
  • NAMI HelpLine
  • USA
  • Internship/Volunteer

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

The NAMI HelpLine is contacted over 50,000 times a year by people across the U.S. who are affected by mental illness and needing help. HelpLine Volunteer/Intern Information and Resource Referral Specialists provide a vital service to the NAMI community by responding with empathy to inquiries by phone, text, email, written correspondence and social media posts, and by providing information about mental health conditions and treatment options, NAMI education and support programs, and other mental health resources. 

NAMI HelpLine volunteers and interns 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, volunteers and interns will develop a deep understanding of the mental health landscape, mental illnesses, treatment options and recovery strategies. They will experience the appreciation and gratitude expressed by helpseekers. NAMI HelpLine volunteers and interns change lives.  

Serving Remotely

NAMI HelpLine volunteers and interns use the HelpLine's cloud-based technology to connect with helpseekers and are able to serve from anywhere in the country. A computer and high-speed internet connection are essential. 


Working with helpseekers is extremely rewarding and at times, challenging.  It requires a commitment to learning and the HelpLine training is designed to prepare volunteers and interns to respond to the diverse needs of helpseekers. The training consists of a total of @65 hours to be completed prior to the start of the first shift.  @40 hours of the training is conducted independently over a 4-week period with an additional 5 HelpLine 1-on-1 coaching sessions scheduled with HelpLine staff. The independent learning portion is a combination of online learning modules and independent reading, as well as viewing of streaming online videos and documentaries.  The Staff-supported virtual HelpLine 1-on-1 coaching sessions are conducted over a series of Zoom meetings and are @ 3-4 hours each. All training is completed prior to the start of an internship or volunteer commitment.  

Minimum Time Commitment Requirements  

Fall/Spring interns*  a minimum of two, 4-hour shifts per week for a minimum duration of 4 months  

Summer interns* a minimum of three, 4-hour shifts per week for a minimum duration of 3 months 

Volunteers - a minimum of one, 4-hour shift per week, for a minimum duration of 6 months  

*To receive academic credit, student interns often seek to work 16-20 hours per week during the semester.  It Is recommended that applicants work with their Academic Advisor regarding the option to earn academic credit for a NAMI HelpLine internship.  If desired, students may continue to serve in a volunteer capacity on a reduced schedule of 4 hours per week following the successful completion of their internship.  Scheduling of shifts is flexible, and NAMI works to accommodate student schedules.

The HelpLine has recently expanded its hours and we are looking for volunteers/interns for our 4 - 8pm shift; Mon-Fri, Eastern Standard Time).  

Ongoing Support 

The NAMI HelpLine team strives to create a supportive "virtual" community for interns and volunteers!  Ongoing support is provided throughout each shift via a continuous stream of online chat between volunteers, interns and staff and everyone participates in a daily Zoom meeting to share experience and information, and to answer questions.   

Professional Qualifications:

  • A student or professional of mental health, and/or someone with "lived," personal experience - either as a person living with a 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 or text/chat communication. 
  • Analytical ability with problem-solving skills and resourcefulness for assessing a helpseeker's needs and finding correct resources in a timely manner
  • Basic knowledge of mental illnesses, treatments, recovery, and mental health care systems with an interest in learning more
  • Ability to conduct basic internet research quickly while simultaneously managing phone conversation
  • 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 who may be in emotional distress or active psychosis 
National Alliance on Mental Illness
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