The Chancellor talks to helpline staff

Online citizens’ dialogue The Chancellor talks to helpline staff

Helplines and crisis hotlines provide advice and support in difficult times – including the COVID-19 pandemic. In her series of online dialogues, Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken with the staff who take the calls, provide support and answer questions.

Chancellor Angela Merkel in discussion with the people who staff helplines and crisis hotlines

This time Chancellor Angela Merkel is talking to helpline and crisis hotline staff

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

Helplines and crisis hotlines are taking even more calls during the pandemic than before. They provide support and advice – when people are suffering mental health crises, trying to cope with stress in the family, dealing with isolation or facing a financial emergency. Children and young people suffering from anxieties, family carers and women in emergencies will also find help. 

At her online citizen dialogue on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with the people who staff helplines and crisis hotlines. The Chancellor wanted to find out more about their work at the moment.

Giving those affected a voice

The staff of helplines and crisis hotlines literally have “an ear” for the needs and problems of the people who contact them seeking help. They are thus in a good position to provide some insights into their current situation. In the dialogue with the Chancellor they gave a voice to the people who are rarely, if ever, heard in public discussions about the pandemic.

The Chancellor wanted to find out more about how the pandemic is impacting on the mental health of those seeking help, and how the conversations conducted by full-time staff and volunteers have changed over the last year. The dialogue also paid tribute to the incredibly valuable work performed by the staff providing helpline services.

Which helpline staff took part?

Participants in the dialogue were nominated by a number of different cooperation partners. They included helplines and crisis hotlines offering general mental health support without a focus on any one topic area, such as the TelefonSeelsorge, the Russian language helpline Doweria, the Berliner Krisendienst and Silbernetz.

Helplines that specifically address children, young people and women were also represented. They include the Gewalt gegen Frauen women’s helpline and the Nummer gegen Kummer for young people, as well as the purely chat-based service

Helplines that focus on more specific aspects of addiction and debt also participated. They included the debt helpline Caritas Schuldenberatung Neubrandenburg and the German Red Cross helpline for family members of people with addiction problems.

You can find more information here in the overview of helplines and crisis hotlines taking part.

Citizens’ dialogues look back on a long tradition

This series of dialogues with the Chancellor build on a long tradition of citizens’ dialogues with Chancellor Angela Merkel. For many years she has regularly sought the opportunity to talk directly with citizens in all parts of Germany. Since direct discussions are currently impossible because of the pandemic, it seemed obvious to hold online dialogues with citizens.

This dialogue with the staff of helplines and crisis hotlines is the sixth in this series. The Chancellor has already spoken to the parents of nursery and school-age children, trainees and trainers, police officers and students. There has also been an online discussion of the situation in nursing.