In March 2020, Memorial Behavioral Health established an emotional support line to help individuals experiencing anxiety or stress. One year later, more than 2,000 calls have been made to the support line.
“Initially, callers’ concerns involved anxiety related to themselves or a loved one contracting COVID-19, managing the stress of children at home doing online learning while the guardian was working from home, and managing emotions related to lack of social contact,” said Amber Olson, director of behavioral health therapy, Memorial Behavioral Health. “As quarantine continued, call themes shifted to managing grief associated with the loss of a loved one, responding to increased relationship discord, managing increased need for support between therapy appointments, processing fears related to work and questions regarding resources to ease financial strain.”
At the height of COVID-19 positivity rates, support line staff initiated making “bridge calls” in conjunction with the Memorial Behavorial Health Crisis Clinic to find callers fast and efficient access to mental health services. Many local providers also referred clients to the support line to fill gaps in care between therapy or medical visits.
“Consistency and support within times of extreme change are important,” said Olson. "Callers can expect to be provided with emotional support, directed to accurate sources of information regarding COVID-19, educated on coping and self-care and linked to community resources and behavioral health services within Memorial Behavioral Health. We provide these services to a range of callers, from those having a bad day or handling major life adjustments, to those experiencing escalation of behavioral health symptoms.”
The Memorial Behavioral Health Emotional Support Line is free and open to everyone, whether or not the caller is a Memorial Behavioral Health patient. To contact the Memorial Behavioral Health Emotional Support Line, call 217-588-5509. For more information visit MemorialBehavioralHealth.org/Services/Emotional-Support-Hotline.