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Idaho launches COVID-19 crisis counseling hotline


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IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has launched a COVID-19 crisis counseling hotline in response to increased mental health struggles during the pandemic.

The new COVID Help Now hotline will provide trained crisis counselors who can help callers grasp their situation and reaction to COVID-19, according to an IDHW news release. The responders will also provide coping skills to reduce stress and give emotional support.

“This was an identified need that Idahoans are suffering and they are being impacted by COVID-19,” IDHW spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr told “The Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Health and Welfare, and the Idaho Office of Emergency Management recognized that need and decided to work together to create COVID Help Now.”

Forbing-Orr said when people’s basic needs are not met, it makes other health and behavioral issues harder to manage. She also said food insecurity, homelessness, disability and other challenges are made worse as a result of the pandemic.

“It’s set up to help people deal with the stress of COVID and help access services if needed,” Forbing-Orr said. ” We all hope people will use this number.”

IDHW said the hotline is anonymous. The responders do not classify, label, or diagnose callers. The hotline also does not keep case records.

To reach the COVID Help Now hotline, Idahoans can reach out via phone or text. The line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mountain Standard Time seven days a week. Responders can be reached by calling or texting (986)-867-1073 or calling toll-free (866)-947-5186. Callers can also leave a message during off-hours and will receive a call back the following day.

The IDHW plans to bring an online chat feature soon. More resources to help those struggling during the pandemic can visit the COVID Help Now webpage.