Holiday Season Brings Uptick in Calls to CA Parent & Youth Helpline

By: Suzanne Potter

Producer at

Active crisis calls have jumped 50% in the run-up to the holidays, according to officials at the California Parent and Youth Helpline.

The helpline is staffed by trained professional counselors who can listen, help people with self-calming techniques, and direct the caller to appropriate help. It’s open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., in English and Spanish, with translation services available in other languages.

Dr. Lisa Pion-Berlin, president and CEO of Parents Anonymous, which runs the California Parent and Youth Helpline, noted calls have continued to grow.

“We have been getting more and more urgent suicide ideation calls,” Pion-Berlin reported. “Kids reaching out to us, to text and live chat. So, we’re seeing an uptick, in that people are calling us in the middle of a crisis to get vital emotional support. That definitely has increased.”

She pointed out callers can also sign up for free online weekly support groups. The helpline is different from the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, because the helpline is tailored specifically to support children, teens, parents and other caregivers. The number is 855-427-2736. People can also live-chat on the group’s website.

Pion-Berlin added some people may feel more comfortable calling the helpline because it is not a government agency.

“At Parents Anonymous, we have a slogan, ‘Asking for help is a sign of strength.’ Whether you’re any age — child, parent, grandma, auntie — we want you to call, text, or live-chat the helpline to get that help early, and before anything escalates,” Pion-Berlin explained.

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