People all over the nation are trying to cope with the new normal of life during a pandemic. Many are dealing with health issues, unemployment, grief and facing uncertainty what the future holds.
The Disaster Distress Helpline, a federal crisis hotline, has seen a huge spike in calls of people seeking help recently. The national helpline, ran by the at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides counseling for people facing emotional distress during times of natural and human-caused disasters.
In March, the helpline saw a 338% increase in call volume compared with February, according to spokesperson with the agency. And compared to last year for the month of March, they had an 891% increase of calls.
The pandemic has disrupted normal life routines and lead people isolation as they stay home to curb the spread of the virus. During a recent press briefing, President Donald Trump addressed the mental health crisis stating that it is a big problem and people are struggling.
American workers are suffering from devastating job losses, last week another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits. Over 16,000 Americans have died because of the coronavirus leaving families grieving and unable to gather due to the social-distancing guidelines.
"Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster," reads the program's website.
The helpline is a free resource that is offering counseling and support to anyone in emotional distress due the disaster. They can provide advice on how to cope and offer information on how to spot signs of distress in friends and family members. Crisis counselors can also give callers referrals to local crisis centers for follow up care.
The helpline was launched in 2012 and has provided assistance to residents during disasters such as hurricanes, mass shootings, wildfires, and now the coronavirus pandemic.
Staff is available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. People can call, 1-800-985-5990, or even text, TalkWithUs to 66746, to be connected to a trained counselor.
People seeking help can remain anonymous and they can call for themselves or on behalf of someone else. Anyone is encouraged to use the helpline including; survivors of disasters; loved ones of victims; first responders; rescue, recovery, and relief workers; clergy; and parents and caregivers, the program’s website reads.