There’s no shortage of local, state, and national helplines that offer support to people during emotional or mental health crises. The problem is that they’ve not been easily accessible in one searchable database, which means it might take callers or texters reaching out for help longer to find the resources they need.
A new website launched Tuesday by the Pandemic Crisis Services Coalition aims to change that. Its goal is to make mental health support a click away for people who are struggling with their emotional and mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The ability to access mental health crisis services is critical at this time, yet COVID-19 is impacting the typical ways people receive help in a crisis,” Travis Atkinson, president of the Crisis Residential Association and co-chair of the American Association of Suicidology’s Crisis Services Committee, said in a statement.
Atkinson noted that emergency rooms, where patients might seek care for suicidal thinking and behavior or a panic attack, are focused on treating COVID-19 patients. At the same time, psychiatric hospitals are decreasing their capacity in order to follow social distancing guidelines. “[P]eople need to know how to access available mental health services,” Atkinson said.
The new site debuted with a database of crisis services searchable by state, contact method, support type, topics, and categories. Someone in New York, for example, could search for text-based services staffed by counselors with experience talking about anxiety. In addition to anxiety, topics include bullying, gambling, parenting, and substance use. There are several categories that focus on demographics like gender, veteran status, age, and sexuality.
The database includes contact information for hundreds of helplines and community centers, whose volunteers and staff are trained to connect callers with local mental health providers and resources. The site also includes articles on coping with the effects of COVID-19, tips for how to help a loved one, and information specifically for frontline workers who want mental health support.
The Pandemic Crisis Services Coalition is a group of international mental health organizations that banded together in March in order to create the site. Its members include Crisis Text Line, the American Association of Suicidology, The Trevor Project, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing emotional distress, you can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline by calling 1-800-985-5990 or texting TalkWithUs to 66746. The helpline, which is operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, specializes in helping people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.