SEATTLE — As the pandemic and all its ripple effects roll on with no end in sight, maintaining your mental health is as important as your physical health.
Washington Listens is a service available to help those who are looking for mental health resources.
“Washington Listens is a free support line that anyone in Washington can call if they're having emotional support needs,” said Allie Franklin, CEO of Crisis Connections. “That could be anything from feeling worried about COVID-19, or feeling worried about the effects of isolation, or wondering about how to get connected to resources for basic needs including food, housing, shelter, and those kind of supports.”
The hotline is staffed by people trained by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) in counseling, who will help direct you to the services you need.
“This is a partnership between FEMA and SAMHSA along with the State of Washington,” Franklin said. “It's statewide, it's free of charge and it's really intended to be not a crisis line, but a support line.
“So if people are worried, they are concerned about things, then this is a single point of entry where we can get people connected to resources. It's also confidential and it's a place where people don't necessarily have to give their name – they may be asked for a ZIP code, they may be asked for a little bit of identifying information so we can get them connected to the right support that would make the most sense for them.”
The prolonged isolation brought on by the pandemic can cause people to feel disconnected, disoriented and depressed – even if they are otherwise gainfully employed, living in secure housing and able to provide for themselves and family.
This can actually have a compounding effect: “Why am I depressed when I am safe and secure?”
“One of the things that I think is really important is, that it's OK to not be OK, that all people are experiencing some form of disruption,” Franklin said. “On one hand it's good to have perspective to say it's nice to have a roof over my head, but on the other hand, we're about connecting with other people.
“That's kind of how humans are built. It's one thing to have the Zoom calls, but that's really different than being able to actually hug someone or sit across from someone at a meal and being able to share your day with a friend or with part of your support system.”
Other partners in the project include:
- Crisis Connections
- Community Integrated Health Services (CIHS)
- American Indian Community Center (AICC)
- Swinomish Tribe
- Colville Tribe
- Frontier Behavioral Health (FBH)
- Okanogan Behavioral HealthCare (OBHC)
Call Washington Listens at 1-833-681-0211. Services are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.