Concern Hotline was conceived in 1968 by a small group of people who were concerned about the high suicide rate in the Winchester area. It was not only the highest rate in the state, it was more than double the national rate.
At that time, mental health services were provided by the Northwestern Psychiatric Clinic – the only community mental health agency in the area. Those concerned individuals – including Dr. Kic Kiczales, Judge Henry Whiting, and Bettie Johnston – assembled under the auspices of the Northwestern Mental Health Association to form a task force, study the problem, and develop a response to address the need for support services for suicidal people.
The rise of crisis hotlines in the United States in the mid 1960’s provided the concept and operational model; volunteers were recruited from the local faith community; trainers were brought in from Washington, D.C.; and in April 1970, Concern Hotline went into service for the City of Winchester and the Counties of Frederick and Clarke.
In 1978, the Northwestern Community Services Board was mandated by the State of Virginia to provide 24-hour Crisis Intervention Service to the entire Planning District (Winchester, Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah, and Page). Concern was given the contract to provide this service and expanded their hotline service in the additional three counties.
Concern Hotline incorporated as a 501(c)(3) on April 16, 1979. Today, the program is administered by a paid Executive Director and Volunteer Coordinator and the hotline is staffed with trained community volunteers. Guided and supported by a Board of Directors with members representing the entire coverage areas, Concern receives close to 7,000 calls a year from people seeking assistance, comfort, and non-judgemental understanding.
*** Our hotline listeners are not trained professionals. In the case of an emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
140 Independence Dr
Winchester, VA 22601
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