Cleveland Mental Health Hotline Sees Uptick In Calls Due To COVID-19

Frontline Service employee John Rudolph takes a call from the company's 24-7 crisis hotline. The mental health organization has received a slight uptick in calls during the COVID-19 crisis.
Frontline Service employee John Rudolph takes a call from the company's 24/7 crisis hotline. The mental health organization has received a slight uptick in calls during the COVID-19 crisis. [Mary Fecteau / ideastream]
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A 24/7 mental health crisis hotline run by Frontline Service in Cleveland has received about a ten percent increase of calls so far, compared to last April.

Director of Crisis and Trauma Services Rick Oliver said most callers already have a mental health concern that has been "elevated" by the COVID-19 crisis. Many times, they are calling to process their feelings about the COVID-19 crisis.

He added that the hotline's volume of calls were down in both February and March, compared to 2019 numbers. In the past two weeks, though, there has been a noticeable increase.

The director of Ohio's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Lori Criss said one cause of anxiety can be the the influx of COVID-19 updates and information. On one hand, it can help people feel a sense of control, but it can also be overwhelming.

“Finding what that turning point is for you when you’ve got enough information that you know what to do in terms of protecting yourself and protecting your community, and then when you are feeling overwhelmed or maybe stories are bringing on anxiety or sadness or feelings of loss of control or hopelessness, that’s time to turn it off and walk away," Criss said.

Criss said she recommends connecting with others by reaching out over the phone or on social media, but also prioritizing alone time to process the situation.

Cuyahoga County's Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board operates a 24/7 peer-run warmline. A spokesperson for the ADAMHS board said the warmline has seen a 30% increase in activity this month, and the majority of the calls were about stress and anxiety related to COVID-19.

A United Way of Greater Cleveland spokesperson said the organization's 2-1-1 assistance line has seen a "huge uptick" in basic need requests, such as food and housing assistance, but calls for mental health services are currently down.

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