The holiday season, with the family gatherings and meals it occasions, not infrequently intensifies feelings of loneliness and depression, stress and anger. ERAN Emotional Crisis Hotline was created to offer support to anyone experiencing such feelings of distress. ERAN operates a phone hotline (which can be reached from any phone with the universal number 1201) and an internet live emergency help center, both anonymous and strictly confidential. ERAN was first set up in 1971 by Maria-Berta Zasleni in memory of her late husband, the psychiatrist, Arie Zasleni. The first center was situated in Mrs. Zasleni’s home. By 1983, four more centers had been established in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva and Netanya, which were operated by the cities municipalities. In 1983 the independent emotional first aid centers united to form a national organization.
At present, ERAN operates in ten locations throughout Israel: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva, Netanya, Kfar Saba, Carmiel, Hadera, Rishon Lezion and Nazareth. ERAN’s 24-hour hotline is the organization’s primary service. The hotline operates in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic and Russian, and is available to any individual seeking emotional first aid, coming from any background. There are two additional, specialized centers, one for soldiers and another for the elderly. The hotlines are operated by volunteers who come from diverse professional backgrounds and who undergo extensive, professional training before taking on their posts in the call center.
ERAN received 135,000 calls in 2009 – 58% of them from women. A break down of the calls reveals that the leading motivations for calling the center were: loneliness (24%), mental illness (19%), relationship difficulties (9%), interpersonal difficulties (7%), parent-child relationship difficulties (6%) and depression (6%).
Among the soldiers who called the center, the leading causes for calling the hotline were sexual identity issues (12%), trauma or anxiety (7%), sexual problems (6%) and sexual assault (4%). Among the population of elderly callers, the leading causes for calling were loneliness (52%) and interpersonal relationship problems (12%). In the Arab sector, the leading issues were relationship difficulties (51%) and loneliness (42%).