Need mental health support? SLO Hotline is here to help

by: Amy Blasco

In 2020 the number of Americans who say they feel anxious has increased by almost 400 percent, according to data from screenings conducted by Mental Health America. Residents in San Luis Obispo County are feeling the strain, too.

“With each month that the COVID-19 pandemic is prolonged, the mental health needs of our community grow more urgent,” said Jill Bolster-White, executive director at Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA). “As an agency, the number of clients we serve increased this past year by over 1,000 people.”

More people than ever before are looking for mental wellness support, but aren’t sure where to find it. To help solve this problem, Verdin is partnering with TMHA to create a campaign that educates the public about SLO Hotline, a free, confidential, mental health telephone line.

Verdin is calling this project The 2020 Give. Since 2014 we've hosted an annual event called the 24-Hour Give during which a worthy nonprofit gets a full rebrand, for free, and all in 24 hours. In light of the pandemic, the Give will be extended beyond a consecutive 24-hour period. Our team is currently working with THMA, a select handful of skilled creative partners and media sponsors to develop and execute a free mental health awareness campaign, to be launched in January 2021. It will include campaign strategy and creative concepting, a 30-second video, digital and print ads, a radio spot, photography, and social media assets—all at no cost.

“This year, more than any other year, it felt imperative to give back to our community,” President Mary Verdin said. “Because of COVID-19 and all the uncertainty and change in our world, mental health has really taken center stage. We decided the best way to help people is to use our expertise as a marketing and PR firm to get the word out about SLO Hotline.”

SLO Hotline strives to offer mental health crisis support and resources, reduce stigma, and educate our community about mental illness – what it is and what it is not. Compassionate and well trained staff and volunteers are available around the clock to answer calls from the public. Their primary goal is to listen and offer support and referrals to local mental health resources and other nonprofits, depending on each caller’s needs.

The hotline is also open to family members or friends who call on another’s behalf. It offers texting and chat, as well as Spanish-speaking call specialists and Language Line interpreter services are available. This completely local program serves all of SLO County, Santa Maria and Lompoc under the umbrella of TMHA.

The 2020 Give campaign will encourage people to put the hotline number, (800) 783-0607, in their phone contacts. That way each person will know who to call for mental health support, whether it’s for themselves, a friend, a family member, or a neighbor.

“We want people to be aware that SLO Hotline is a community resource that’s free and available 24/7. Even if you just have a question, call us. And if you don’t feel comfortable calling, text us,” Bolster-White said. “Often people don’t think about mental health until something happens. They’re in a crisis moment and don’t know who to call. SLO Hotline is here to help in that moment and before things get to such a difficult point. We’re here to support people.”

For more information about The 2020 Give, visit or follow us on social media.

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