FAQ

What is Help4MDYouth.org?

It’s a confidential and secure place to talk about problems and stress that may be difficult to talk about anywhere else. It is an initiative of the Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline Network, the first and only state with a comprehensive, decentralized hotline network. A person in Maryland simply dials the toll-free number or initiates a chat and accesses a hotline center in their region. All centers operate telephone services 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365 days a year.

Who should use Help4MDYouth.org?

Help4MDYouth is a place for Maryland youth who are going through a hard time or are thinking about suicide, or are concerned about someone else.

What do you mean when you say “emotional support?”

Emotional support is:
● Compassionate, non-judgmental listening
● Exploration of feelings, thoughts and options
● Suicide risk assessment
● Exploration of positive next steps and options

Chat aims to
● Help reduce stress, isolation, and feelings of depression
● Help people make healthier decisions
● Prevent suicide attempts and suicides.

Who responds to my chat?

Chat specialists may be staff or volunteers and are located at one of the five (5) Maryland Hotline Crisis Centers. All Chat Specialists have been specially trained to provide emotional support and are members of centers accredited by the American Association of Suicidology and sanctioned by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as well as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

What should I expect during a chat session?

Our goal is to help you reduce stress and feel more empowered to make healthy decisions.

You will be asked questions regarding:
● Your safety
● Emotions and thoughts regarding your situation
● Feelings of depression
● Current social situation
● If you have thoughts of suicide

If a Chat Specialist feels that you are in danger, he or she will talk with you about accessing emergency services to ensure your safety. The Chat Specialist will also work collaboratively with you to create a safety plan, outlining some positive coping strategies and next steps.

There may be times when additional contact information is requested. This will be requested in case the chat is unexpectedly disconnected or the Chat Specialist needs to send emergency services.

How much does it cost?

Chat is absolutely free. The Maryland Hotline Network centers are supported by local funding and through a Garret Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Grant.

When is chat available?

When you click on the Chat link, you will be routed to a crisis center in Maryland that has a Chat Specialist available to talk to you. If a Chat Specialist does not answer your chat immediately, please be patient as the Specialist may be on another chat.

If the chat is not open, you will see the next available chat time. When there is no chat service available, we encourage you to call the Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline at 1-800-422-0009.

Why are you asking for my information? Can I remain anonymous?

Non-identifying demographic information (like your zip code, age, issue area, and self-identified gender) is collected on Crisis Chat. These statistics help us demonstrate the need for the service, and to attain further funding to expand the service in the United States.

You are not required to use your real name on Crisis Chat.  If you would like to remain completely anonymous throughout your chat session, you may provide a fictitious name or choose the “log in anonymously” option.

If your phone number or other form of contact information is requested, it is so a Chat Specialist can contact you in case of a disconnected chat, or in the case of an emergency in which your safety is at risk. Your personal information will never be shared unless a Chat Specialist feels your life is in imminent danger.

How is my information stored?

Your information and chats are confidential within the crisis chat network and are subject to stringent HIPAA laws. Any statistical information reported to the public is without any identifying information to ensure anonymity.

Are chat communications secure?

Confidentiality and security of chats are ensured through the  software provider, which uses the same encryption and data protection standards required by major financial institutions to transact business with each other. All of your communications are securely encrypted from your computer to ours.

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