Tennessee creates text line for pandemic stress

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Posted at 6:08 AM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 07:56:56-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This week, Tennessee state leaders added a texting feature to the state's Tennessee’s Emotional Support Line for Pandemic Stress, which launched last year to help frontline workers deal with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty for all of us and we know when that happens, it impacts us emotionally," Matt Yancey said. Yancey is the Deputy Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The line is open to healthcare workers, first responders and educators. When they call, they speak with trained counselors who will help them with emotional stress caused by the pandemic.

"You'll communicate with a trained professional who will provide grief counseling and they'll also provide a referral to local resources," Yancey said. "They really help people recognize signs of distress."

Yancey said those conversations have become more common in recent months.

"It's about the one year anniversary where you start to see people say, 'Hey, I've had enough and I'm ready to reach out for help,' so I think we anticipate more and more people to use this resource moving forward," Yancey said.

This week the department launched a texting feature for the help line, in an effort to make the help more accessible.

"It's less time consuming, you can pick it up and put it down, it's less stressful, and also less intimidating than talking to somebody on the phone," Yancey said. "It's really a sign of strength to pick up the phone and say, 'I need some one to help me, I need some one to talk to.'"