Need a pick-me-up? PA starts “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania” hotline with jokes, pep talks, and more

14 December 2023- The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) today unveiled You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania—an automated phone number that individuals of all ages can call to hear pep talks, jokes, and words of encouragement from Pennsylvania students.

“The holiday season can be a time when people struggle with their mental health, and sometimes we can all use a little pick-me-up,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania was developed to spread cheer, promote resiliency, and encourage self-care. Users of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life—both in the Commonwealth and beyond—are encouraged to call the line anytime they need a pep talk.”

Callers can access the line at (717) 772-4737 and can select from menu options to hear advice, encouragement, and jokes from early elementary through high school students. 

The fully automated phone line features pre-recorded messages from students in grades K-12 across Pennsylvania. The name, school, and location of the child featured on the recording is not shared with callers and all submissions are captured and added by Commonwealth employees.  

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64 percent of people with a mental illness say that their conditions worsen around the holidays. This can be due to several factors, including stress, loneliness, financial worries, shortened daylight hours, or increased substance use.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services AdministrationOpens In A New Window (SAMHSA) recommends the following strategies to support mental health around the holidays: paying attention to your feelings; developing a plan for when you are feeling stressed, sad, or lonely; practicing self-care; connecting with community; supporting others; recognizing seasonal mood changes; avoiding alcohol and drugs; and knowing when to seek help.

If you need immediate support, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.