An aide to Mayor Marion Barry called 462-6610 recently and asked for the tape on depression.

With that call, the District launched Counseline, a pretaped, telephone information and referral service that tries to help callers with mental health problems.

Counseline is an area counseling service developed by the D.C. Mental Health Association and the Psychiatric Institute.

Counseline is not a hotline and does not provide crisis counseling. Instead, Counseline provides information and education about mental health issues, according to its sponsors.

In order to use Counseline, callers may consult a directory which lists the 45 tapes currently available through the service. The directories are available in libraries throughout the city. Callers may call the Counseline number -- 462-6610 -- anonymously and ask to hear a particular tape. Counseline volunteers are available to help callers who do not have tape number. Taped messages run from four to 10-minutes and provide information as well as referrals to community services for help with mental health problems.

Ten Counseline telephones are operated by area volunteers six days a week: 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturdays. Volunteers interested in working for the service may call the Mental Health Association at 462-1122 or the Psychiatric Institute at 467-4538.