Residents in Central and West Central Illinois who are experiencing stress and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic, or other issues in their lives, can now call a free, emotional-support hotline. .
The hot line, operated by Memorial Behavioral Health is being offered as a way for people feeling overcome by rapid changes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, without having to go to a person to person session or worrying about how to pay for the help.
Administrator of Behavior Health at Memorial Health System, Diana Knaebe says that the hotline will be available as long as there is a need.
“We have trained mental health professionals that are answering it daily from 8 am to 8 pm. Right now we will be running it seven days a week until we determine it’s no longer needed. And for those in Jacksonville, our Jacksonville office is open and so they could also call there and that number is 245-6126 if they want to speak with someone there as well. We are trying as much as possible, as I think most of the healthcare professionals are, to do things telephonically”
Knaebe says that her team is also working to to provide information via the internet and social media to help people get through the current uncertainty related to the pandemic. She says though that people need to make sure they are accessing creditable information when they go online.
“We are also trying to get out available resources via our Memorial website as well as our Memorial Health System social media. There is a lot of good information out there about social distancing, quarantining and isolation and positive things to do. Certainly I think keeping in mind, the need to use reliable sources. I think a lot of folks are out on social media, but they need to make sure that they are looking at positive kinds of things to do for themselves.”
To reach the free hotline, dial 217-588-5509. If callers need services beyond their initial call, they will be directed to other providers at Memorial Behavioral Health.
Knaebe says that even if life may not feel normal right now, the feelings and worry they may be going through is.
“It’s very very normal for people to be anxious, to be worried, to be fearful right now. That’s a common experience for most of us I think at this point in time. Not certain about what’s going on, not knowing how long we will end up being socially distanced ad so forth, and again I think it’s important to make sure people are getting reliable information, and not spreading information that they have not vetted.”
Other free and confidential options for people dealing with mental health issues include the national Crisis Text Line, which can be reached at 741741, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or 1-800-273-TALK. Both of those services operate 24 hours a day.
To reach the Jacksonville Memorial Behavioral Health Office, call 245-6126, and to contact the Memorial Emotional Support hotline, call 217-588-5509.