Innovative Guidance Helpline to Treat People with PTSD

NATAL’s Helpline was developed 20 years ago to provide an accessible and destigmatized method for those traumatized by terror and war. The Helpline provides state-of-the art trauma-informed mental health care. Twelve years later, in partnership with Pastor Harris and his community, the model was adapted to help Chicagoans cope with trauma from urban violence. This international partnership trained 40 caregivers to help hundreds of callers annually, resulting in healthier outcomes and behaviours.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Israel is a world leader in trauma-informed care. In 2001, the internationally renowned Israeli non-profit, NATAL, started a Helpline using their experience to help callers cope with “transparent wounds” (i.e. depression, anxiety, agitation, dissociation, confusion, physical arousal, avoidance, guilt, oversensitivity, withdrawal, blunted affect, potential substance abuse, risky behaviours and even violence and suicide) caused by exposure to terror and war based on the following principles:
1. The three fundamental stages of healing: creating security, reliving the trauma story, and rebuilding the connection between the victims and their communities.
2. Well-trained volunteers and non-professionals can serve as a great tool for initial guidance by helping in the democratization of mental health knowledge and expanding the amount of 'first liners' in mental health emergency aid.

The Helpline has been offering a combination of phone interventions and therapeutic support. It provides easily accessible and non-stigmatizing services to traumatized individuals. The Helpline provides both crisis intervention and long term emotional support.

Innovative aspects of the Hotline include:
1. Being totally anonymous
2. Three modes of services provided: one time call, short term guidance, and long term guidance
3. The caregivers being heavily screened non-professionals who complete 90 hours of intensive training
4. Continuity of care is provided, including placement in treatment

In 2013, Pastor Harris of Bright Star Church in Chicago came to Israel and was able to see the NATAL Helpline in operation, sparking the formation of an incredible partnership. One year later, NATAL’s model was adapted and scaled to help Chicagoans cope with the trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experienced as a result of urban violence. NATAL provided training and support to equip local staff in Chicago’s inner city with the tools, knowledge, attitudes, skills, and expertise to provide a culturally appropriate version of the NATAL model.

This unique international collaboration helped establish The Urban Resilience Network (TURN) and created a cultural bridge that brought together different histories, lifestyles and values. TURN has destigmatized and legitimized mental health care in the inner city of Chicago, which is a community suffering from long and deep-seeded traditions of rejecting mental health services.

The social innovation resulting from the partnership has benefited both Israeli and Chicago callers as sharing experiences and lessons learned have provided a feedback loop that has enhanced service delivery on both sides of the ocean. NATAL completed thorough assessments in order to properly adapt the programming for TURN prior to having two cohorts of on-site training for local staff and 22 online sessions in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These staff members have been able to serve as pillars of community resilience through the Helpline as the reduction in trauma reduces violent and retaliatory behaviours in the communities.

The next stage in this partnership is to bring the NATAL’s model to scale in other urban communities in the United States and globally by working with partners to identify and make modifications as required to keep the model culturally responsive and reflective of community values and resources.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

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