TAMPA, Fla. - Calls to crisis centers have risen drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people are struggling to cope with the uncertainty surrounding the changes to everyday life.
"A lot of people understand grief as it relates to death and dying, but grief is also true for people who missing weddings, they can't have funerals, they're missing their prom, their senior prom,” said April Lott, Directions for Living CEO.
Many callers are reporting feeling anxious, depressed and alone.
"The coronavirus isn't causing mental illness, it's causing a mental health challenge that's affecting everyone,” explained Natasha A. Pierre, NAMI Hillsborough vice president.
However, amidst the chaos, there is hope. Counties across the Tampa Bay Area have seen the need, and now they’re doing something to help.
"Locally, we've seen an increase in people requesting support groups,” said Pierre.
In Hillsborough and Pasco Counties, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, has kicked off virtual support groups.
"We're doing both zoom support groups as well as phone call, phone conference support groups, and those are going really well,” explained Pierre.
In Pinellas County, they’ve activated an emotional support hotline.
"What we are trying to tell people really is just to stay grounded today,” said Lott.
The Directions for Living organization has even helped many people get access to resources, like phones, so they can stay connected.
"We're working with community partners to get phones so people who don't have the technology that you and I have right now today, can have that,” said Lott. “It really is a game-changer."
The organizations are reminding the community that even during a time of social isolation, you're never truly alone.
"There are ways for us to connect and to remember that we're not being stuck at home, we're actually safer at home for ourselves, our friends and our families,” said Pierre.
The virtual support groups and hotline are available to anyone regardless of where you live.
- For more information on virtual support groups organized by NAMI, click here.
- Click here to learn more about the efforts being done by Directions for Living and their emotional support hotline.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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