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Connecticut Mental Health Org. Sees Uptick In Requests For Support During Pandemic

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

The Connecticut chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, says it answered 280 support calls and emails in the first four months of the pandemic. That’s more than half of calls received in the entire year before that.

Valerie Lepoutre manages the Statewide Peer Recovery program for young adults. She said NAMI experienced an uptick in calls and texts during quarantine.

“Some of them have become more intense," she said. "A lot of higher rates of anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts and then since the pandemic, when we moved all of our programs online we increased our number of support groups because there was a higher demand for it as well.”

Lepoutre said September is suicide prevention awareness month and the pandemic has heightened the need to discuss ways to seek help. NAMI support groups are free and do not require insurance, and have gone virtual for social distancing.

“We will continue to have these support groups online after we return back to the office because we see a need, especially because there are a lot of people who might live in rural areas or aren’t able to find transportation. So we’ve been able to provide that safe space online,” she said.

Connecticut ranks second in the nation for NAMI crisis textline outreach related to stress and anxiety. The top three issues reported via text include: relationships (36%), depression or sadness (35.3%) and suicide (18%). Text “LISTEN” to 741741 to seek help.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.