Peer-to-Peer/Warm Helplines

International Council for Helplines offers accreditation to both peer-to-peer warmlines as well as warmline (non-peer) programs to ensure high quality standards and ethical practice.

We recognize there are two types of warmlines offered, those staffed by peers with lived experience and those staffed by non-peers. As such, we have created two separate manuals to focus on the specific function and needs of each warmline.

International Council for Helplines accreditation standards define and establish best practices in the peer-to-peer/warmline field. The Standards focus on areas outlined below in order for programs to have the infrastructure in place to provide compassionate and non-judgmental services to those in need of emotional support.

If you are interested in learning more about International Council for Helpline’s accreditation process (see below) and/or would like a copy of our Accreditation Standards Manual, contact us or email

How can becoming accredited benefit my organization?
Accreditation can benefit your organization in many ways, including:

  • Provides a competitive advantage with funders
  • Increases credibility within the community you serve
  • Enhances your organization’s reputation by demonstrating your commitment to quality and best practices
  • Provides an objective assessment of your day-to-day operations
  • Promotes a positive culture within your organization and programs
  • Builds in levels of accountability and strategic planning within your infrastructure.

Why International Council for Helplines?

International Council for Helplines (formally CONTACT USA) has been a helpline membership organization offering accreditation services for over 50 years.  International Council for Helplines is a leader in the field of helpline accreditation and is solely dedicated to establishing best practice standards of service for emotional support helplines.  The International Council for Helplines Accreditation Site Examiners are leaders in their respective fields and use a collaborative approach in working with organizations in completing accreditation requirements.

What is the process for obtaining accreditation?
Peer-to-peer/warmline accreditation standards cover 9 areas:

  1. Governance and Leadership
  2. Fiscal and Administrative
  3. Facilities, Equipment and Safety
  4. Training
  5. Program Management
  6. Supervision, Support and Evaluation of Specialists
  7. Suicide Prevention and Intervention
  8. Management of Specific Contact Types
  9. Peer-to-peer/Warmline Specific Standards

*If an organization is having more than one helpline accredited then standards 1-3 above are addressed only once.  Standards 4-9 apply to each specific helpline.

The accreditation process typically takes between 6-9 months.  Below are the steps involved in the accreditation process:

Step 1:
Complete the online Application for Accreditation and Membership and submit.

Step 2:
Send the appropriate fees (see the application for both the fee amount and different payment methods).

Step 3:
Once the application is received, the International Council for Helpline Accreditation Coordinator sets up a conference call to review the accreditation process and answer questions.  The Accreditation Coordinator also sends the:

  • Pre-accreditation Questionnaire (to be completed)
  • Council for Helplines Statement of Values (to be signed)
  • Accreditation Standards Manuals (if not previously sent)
  • Documentation Submittal Procedures

Step 4:

After the accreditation and membership fees are received, 2 Accreditation Site Examiners are assigned.  The Lead Site Examiner will work with you to determine the site visit date, travel arrangements and scheduling for the onsite visit.  Note:  if you would like to use your organization’s tax exemption status for any travel arrangements, please let your Lead Site Examiner know before any travel is booked.

Step 5:
All documentation addressing the components listed in the Accreditation Manual(s) are assembled and submitted to a secure online location (details provided in the Documentation Submittal Procedures).  Note – all documentation must be received at least 6 weeks prior to the site visit.

Step 6:
The site visit schedule is prepared as outlined in the Accreditation Manual.  The schedule is sent to the Lead Accreditation Site Examiner at least 2 weeks prior to your site visit.

Step 7:
The Accreditation Site Examiners conduct an on-site visit which is typically 1-2 days depending on the number of helpline programs completing accreditation process.

Step 8:
The accreditation report(s), scoresheet(s) and accreditation certificate(s) are sent within 30 days of the site visit.

In the event that a program does not meet the minimum standards for accreditation, a 6-month contingency plan is implemented outlining requirements the organization is to meet in order to become accredited.

How much does accreditation cost?
All organizations accredited by International Council for Helplines pay an annual membership due of $500.  Note that the membership dues will be pro-rated for the first year based upon the month of joining International Council for Helplines. 

All organizations who are currently not accredited by International Council for Helplines pay:

  • New accreditation fee for one helpline – $1,000
  • Additional helpline/fees – $500 per helpline

All organizations going through reaccreditation pay:

  • Reaccreditation fee for one helpline – $850
  • Additional helpline/fees – $400 per helpline

The organization is responsible for the Accreditation Site Examiner travel expenses.  Each accreditation site visit requires 2 Site Examiners.  The travel costs can vary depending on the organization’s location.  For budget purposes, estimated travel costs are typically $2,000 to include travel, lodging and food.*

Questions or need additional information? Click here or email us at

*Please note that due to COVID related travel restrictions, all site visits are conducted virtually at this time.