A starting point on the road to recovery

The WA Recovery Help Line, a service of Crisis Clinic, is a 24-hour crisis intervention and referral line for those struggling with issues related to mental health, substance abuse, and problems gambling. Professionally trained volunteers and staff provide confidential support and referrals to detox, treatment, and recovery support groups.

Robyn Smith is The Washington State Recovery Help Line’s Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP) and she has worked in the mental health field for over 10 years. She has a Master’s degree in social work (MSW) from Eastern Washington University. Her experience includes working in various inpatient clinical settings with adults and in outpatient addiction recovery programs with adolescents. In addition, she’s worked on adolescent addiction outreach and prevention initiatives in the state of Washington.

 “I currently have 7 staff and 14 volunteers on my team,” says Smith. Volunteers undergo 32 hours of training and also work closely with the staff in a job shadowing capacity before taking calls themselves.

The Washington Recovery Help Line is an anonymous and confidential help line that provides crisis intervention and referral services for Washington State residents. Professionally trained volunteers and staff are available to provide emotional support 24-hours a day, and offer local treatment resources for substance abuse, problems gambling, and mental health, as well as to other community services.

“There are very few services available like the Recovery Help line,” says Smith. “Many places are just collecting your information in order to broker it out to a treatment center or another facility. But we provide support, unlimited time and complete autonomy to callers seeking support,” she says.

The Recovery Help Line gives those who are unsure of how to go about accessing treatment resources a starting point. “A lot of times people just don’t know where to begin, and our Help Line takes the time to listen to the person’s specific needs and assess the best options for support and treatment,” says Smith.

In Robyn’s experience, supported employment is important, but there is a stigma that some employers can find hard to overcome.  “I think there are plenty of employers who want to give people with addiction or other challenges a chance, but there is still a stigma that is attached. Finding an employer who is able to overcome that is important,” says Smith.

She feels it’s best for an employer to asses an individual’s skills and experience as related to the job at hand, rather than have their past experiences define them. “A part of someone’s past doesn’t always define them, and people should be as open and honest as necessary in these circumstances.” An Employee Assistance Program, (EAP) can be a confidential and effective tool for both parties in supported employment.  An EAP is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.

Robyn is proud of the work she and her staff are doing at The Recovery Help Line. “I’m proud to be contributing to local workforce development. Many people who train or volunteer here aspire to have careers in the mental health field, and their experiences here help prepare them for the future.

They leave with active listening skills, and hands-on experience that really prepares them for one-on-one interactions with people, and I’m happy to be a part of their development,” Smith says.