Code of Ethics
With respect for the dignity and diversity of each caller and his or her gender, age, class, cultural, racial, ethnic, ability impairments, nationality, religious background or sexual or lifestyle orientation, volunteers promote the welfare of callers and extend the core conditions of unconditional positive regard, genuine caring, and empathy to each caller.
Volunteers are aware of the potential to abuse power and strive to remain unbiased. Volunteers will not use influence to persuade callers on political, religious, stereotypical, social, financial, and/or other personal values.
The volunteer shall place the highest value on integrity. The best interests of the callers served remain the chief priority at all times.
No illegal interaction should transpire in the course of volunteering for the support line.
Maintaining the confidentiality of information from callers is a primary responsibility. Such information should not be communicated to others unless specific provisions for such release are met.
Confidential information may be revealed when, after careful consideration and consultation of Tennessee’s Mandated Reporting Laws, there is clear indication and presence of danger to an individual or to society, and then only to those who must be informed in order to reduce that danger. Persons who may be in potential harm or danger, along with emergency personnel may be contacted without the caller’s said permission.
The volunteer should assure that appropriate provisions are made for the maintenance of confidentiality in the storage, retrieval, use and ultimate disposition of records. The volunteer should assure that appropriate provisions are made for the maintenance of confidentiality in their homes or offices (or where ever the volunteer is taking calls) when taking a shift on the Support Line.
If the needs of the caller are beyond the competence of the volunteer, referral to someone with the needed skills should be accomplished as expeditiously as possible, assuring a smooth and seamless transition.
If physical or emotional problems interfere with the volunteer’s optimal functioning, appropriate steps should be taken to see that such problems do not compromise the quality of services offered. The interests of the caller should be considered a priority.
Role and Relationships
Volunteers will present themselves to callers as trained volunteers, and not as professional providers.
The volunteer should not provide information that would imply the presence of qualifications or affiliations, professional or otherwise, that is not accurate, or would lead others to assume qualities or characteristics that are not correct. If misrepresented by others, the volunteer should rectify such misperceptions.
The volunteer should not use his/her affiliation with an organization, or its programs, for the purposes that are not congruent with the stated purposes and objectives of that organization. When using the logo, supplies, and acting as a representative of the Support Line, the volunteer or staff person will adhere to agency policies, standards, and ethics related to fees, administration, services, programs, representation, professionalism, etc.
The volunteer should not provide professional services to any callers from the Support Line at any time.
Volunteers shall refrain from labeling or diagnosing callers.
Volunteers will encourage callers to make their own decisions and will not place themselves in a position to make a decision on a caller’s behalf.
Volunteers offer support services and will refrain from giving advice. Even if trained in another profession, volunteers will refrain from issuing directives to callers, such as legal advice, marital advice, etc. Volunteers will practice only within the scope of emotional support and will not serve as mental health professionals, legal advisors, or legal experts. Volunteers exercise special care when making recommendations to callers or when making public statements about the Line.
At all times, the volunteer will avoid a personal or business relationship with a caller, even when the caller requests it.
At no time is it appropriate to meet a caller at a location for socializing, dating, or having sexual intimacy.
Volunteers will refrain from furthering their personal needs (such as using self disclosure, developing friendships with callers); callers’ needs will be of the utmost priority.
Callers of the Support Line will never rely on a volunteer for transportation, and a volunteer will never offer it.
No commission, rebate, or any other form of remuneration will be offered or accepted by reason of referral to or from a volunteer for the provision of staffing the Support Line.
The volunteer should not use his/her relationship with the caller to promote his/her own benefit or that of any agency or of any other enterprise.
A volunteer associated with the Support Line should not accept a fee or other form of remuneration for providing services to a caller.
Volunteers should not accept a gift from a caller.
Volunteers will follow the Code of Ethics and be mindful of confidentiality and privacy in all electronic communications. If a volunteer identifies themselves as a volunteer for the Tennessee COVID-19 Emotional Support Line, they will make it clear that they are not speaking for the Support Line, MHART, the State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, or any affiliated or supportive organization when corresponding in electronic media, email or on the internet.