Resources for mental health crises

Given the size of the Waking Up community, we are unable to respond individually to each inquiry we receive. With that said, we would like to provide you with some additional support.

Resources for mental health crises

First, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thinking about harming yourself in any way, please dial a local emergency number or go to your nearest emergency room. Help is available.

Below are additional resources that are specific to mental health crises:

NAMI (Monday-Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET)

Telephone hotline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)


Crisis Text Line (24/7)

These resources will provide you with information that is specific to your type of crisis and location, including referrals to nearby emergency services, mobile mental health, and other resources.

Resources for meditation-related difficulties

If you are experiencing significant distress as a result of your meditation practice, we recommend that you stop practicing—even temporarily. Meditation can sometimes exacerbate distressing internal states, and temporarily suspending your practice is a sign of strength, not weakness.

We also encourage you to seek the help of a chosen mental health professional in your area. Psychotherapists, social workers, and other trained clinicians are trained to deal with a wide range of issues, and most will offer a free, initial consultation by phone. For more detailed support about finding a mental health professional, see below.

Finally, the Cheetah House website contains a comprehensive list of resources that can support you. Cheetah House is a non-profit organization that provides information and resources to meditators-in-distress.

Cheetah House can:

  • Help you understand the different symptoms that can arise within meditation based on empirical research. Click here to learn more.
  • Connect you with clinicians who specialize in meditation-related difficulties. Click here to learn more.
  • Provide you with specific questions and answers about meditation-related difficulties. Click here to learn more.
  • Offer a consultation with the founder of Cheetah House, Dr. Willoughby Britton, who is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University Medical School and the Director of Brown’s Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory.

Additional Reading

Davis, L. (2017). Meditations for Healing Trauma: Mindfulness Skills to Ease Post-Traumatic Stress. NY: New Harbinger.

Stanley, E. A. (2019). Widen the window: Training your brain and body to thrive during stress and recover from trauma. New York: Avery.

Treleaven, D. (2018). Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing. NY: Norton.

Choosing a Mental-Health Professional

The following are some suggestions in order to find a mental health professional that can serve you:

  • It’s an important decision: Remember that you are hiring a practitioner – one who you will be spending a significant amount of time with and investing money in.
  • Look them up online: If the practitioner has a website or a professional networking profile, such as LinkedIn, you can get a lot of information about them and their work before interviewing them. Websites are good for weeding people out based on location, cost and area of expertise.
  • Talk to the practitioner directly: Ask for a complimentary phone or live consult beforehand. It’s free and gives you a chance to gauge rapport and make sure they can address what concerns you are coming in with.
  • The interview: A competent practitioner will listen to you, take time to answer your questions and be excited to discuss their work with you. If they seem defensive or rushed, take note of this. Here are topics you might choose to ask about, with more information about each below:
    • What is their experience with the issues you want to work with?
    • What is their educational background?
    • How do they stay up to date in their training?
    • What are their fees and policies regarding cancellations?
    • If resources are a barrier to access for you, the practitioner should be able to provide you with sliding-scale or free resources in your area.

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