Published On: Thu, Aug 13th, 2020

Help available for Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety

Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today reminded Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the covid-19 emergency that they do not have to face things alone — help is available.

“We know that psychological distress – whether it stems from poverty, systemic racism, or a public health crisis – can cause trauma,” said Sec. Miller. “So, I want people to know that if you are experiencing stress, anxiety, or grief from what we’ve been facing – that’s ok. Those feelings are a natural reaction to the difficult circumstances we’re facing right now. But you don’t have to face them alone, and resources are available that can help you work through these feelings.”

In early April, DHS launched the Support & Referral Helpline, a free resource staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers available to counsel Pennsylvanians.

The helpline can be reached toll-free, 24/7 at 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

The helpline is made possible through a partnership with the Center for Community Resources (CCR). CCR staff are skilled at assisting people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, co-occurring disorders, or someone just looking for a supportive, empathetic person to listen. They can provide appropriate referrals to community resources to children, teens, adults and special populations.

The helpline has received a total of 9,213 calls since April 1 and is averaging 68 calls per day.

There are also many other resources that remain available to Pennsylvanians in need of support, including:

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • The Spanish-language National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-888-628-9454
  • The Mental Health Crisis Text Line: Text “PA” to 741-741
  • The Attorney General’s Safe2Say program is also still operating 24/7, and can be reached at 1-844-723-2729 or at www.safe2saypa.org.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that communities more likely to experience excessive stress include people with underlying medical conditions or disabilities, people who have lost their jobs, and racial and ethnic minorities. A recent Penn State study found that across all age groups, individuals who lost work were 64.7 percent more likely to worry about their mental health. And new research reported in the Guardian found that more than half of people who received treatment for covid-19 were found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, insomnia, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

“No matter what challenges you are facing, you do not have go at this alone,” said said Sec. Miller. “It’s ok to ask for help because we can and will get through this together. If you find that you may need help, do not hesitate; reach out.”

More information can be found at dhs.pa.gov

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