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A new crisis counseling hotline is available for Montanans

Posted at 12:49 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 11:51:11-05

A new crisis counseling hotline funded by a $1.6 million federal grant is now available to help Montanans struggling with their mental health due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Montana Crisis Recovery hotline is funded and will be available for at least the next nine months. Montanans who want counseling can call 1-877-503-0833 to receive free and confidential counseling services from trained counselors Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A news release from Governor Steve Bullock says the free service is meant to help people navigate feelings of isolation, loss, fear, uncertainty, depression, and anxiety they are experiencing during this time.

The new service is available to all Montanans, but leaders especially want to offer it to groups like health care workers, first responders, nursing facility employees and contact tracers that are experiencing particular stress during the pandemic. Other targeted groups include school officials, veterans, elderly individuals, Native Americans, and farmers and ranchers.

The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) partnered with the state Disaster & Emergency Services agency to obtain the grant to address the growing need for mental health services.

The news release says that counselors will be there to "listen without judgment, offer emotional support, comfort, console, offer information and education on stress and coping, and direct callers to additional support and community resources."

DPHHS is contracting with Mental Health America of Montana to manage the hotline. The phone line, when fully staffed, will include 12 trained crisis counselors. Efforts are underway to recruit and hire two counselors who are Tribal members.

“It is normal at this stage of the pandemic to be exhausted by it, to continue to have fear and anxiety. I know that many people in Montana unfortunately have lost loved ones, and we want people to know that it is a really good thing to reach out and get help,” said Zoe Barnard, administrator of Montana DPHHS’ Addictive and Mental Disorders Division.

Other mental health resources that are already available to Montanans include the Montana Crisis Text Line, Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Montana Warmline and Thrive by Waypoint Health.

The Crisis Text Line is available at all times by texting MT to 741741; the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255); the Warmline is available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. at 877-688-3377; and information about Thrive by Waypoint Health, an online cognitive behavioral therapy for those actively working to manage anxiety and stress, is also available by clicking here.

The grant is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in collaboration with the federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.