The state Department of Health and Human Services has responded by beefing up its mental health hotline, the Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463), and developing a crisis counseling program tailored for COVID-19. The state also established a similar helpline, Hope4Healers (919-226-2002), for first responders, teachers, child care providers and anyone who works in health care.
“The behavioral health challenges brought on by this pandemic are great,” Victor Armstrong, director of the Division of Mental Health, said during a press conference. “As a state, we must be prepared to address the long-lasting stressors presented by this pandemic.”
Everybody seems to be more stressed
For his patients who have a history of anxiety or depression, the coronavirus pandemic has only made things worse, says Dr. John Holly, a primary care doctor and medical director for six WakeMed primary care practices. Not only has life become more stressful, but often the routines and social connections and interactions that help patients deal with their emotions have been curtailed, he said.
But Holly says other patients are also volunteering that they’re worried or having trouble sleeping. “Everybody seems to be more stressed,” he said.
Holly can arrange for someone to speak to a behavioral health specialist via computer, through a new program WakeMed began putting together before the pandemic. For those who don’t need that level of care, he’ll recommend simple steps, such as unplugging from social media or the nightly news and taking a walk.