warm line
n. A phone service designed to solve relatively minor problems or to prevent those problems from becoming serious (cf. hot line).

Example Citation:
Picking up the telephone, Alan Stern knows he'll hear just about anything from heartbreak to loneliness to not getting to go to the school dance.

The people who call Stern at the Teen Talk "warm line" are average teenagers who feel the need to, well, talk.

"The kids need what we're providing: adults who can listen to them without being judgmental," said Stern. "We try to be reassuring and comforting. We're here to listen."

Stern, with 20 years of experience, is one of two counselors at Teen Talk, which was created by the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service of South Palm Beach County in September. The program also uses a psychologist to answer calls. ...

Organizers call it a "warm line" instead of a hot line because it's a place where teens call long before it's a life-or-death situation.
—Merle Augustin, "Teenagers' problem not on hold," Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), December 18, 2001

Earliest Citation:
Children in Placentia and Yorba Linda who arrive from school to an empty house soon will have someone to talk to in case of small emergencies or simply to "relieve the anxieties" of being alone.

"Phone-Friend," a service with trained volunteers, is gearing to begin operation by mid-November "at the latest," said Connie Underhill, a Placentia resident spearheading the local program.

Financed by donations, Phone-Friend will begin as a "warm line" between 2 and 7 p.m. and expand into a 24-hour hot line for children ages 5 to 18, Underhill said.
—Roxana Kopetman, "'Phone Friend' service planned for children," Los Angeles Times, August 26, 1985

Dean Whitehead, editor of the LA County Department of Mental Health e-Newsletter sent me the following update:

"Warm line" is a generic term for a non-emergency, non-crisis support and referral telephone response service. They offer immediate access to live help and are a cost-effective alternative to crisis lines. Warm lines are often staffed by consumer peers, medical or other professionals, consumer advocates and/or volunteers, and may offer assistance in more than one language. The term has been used since 1978, and possibly earlier, following publication of the article, The WARM LINE: A Primary Prevention Service, by Patricia G. Adkins and Trisha D. Ainsa in Research Communications in Psychology, Psychiatry & Behavior.

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