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Somewhere for West Virginians to turn with Covid related stress

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Operators of several 24 hour help lines in West Virginia have now created a specific line to help West Virginians who are dealing with increased anxiety brought on by all of the factors involving Covid 19. First Choice Services has unveiled what it calls “Help 304, West Virginia’s Emotional Strength Line.”

“A lot of people who frankly don’t need a referral, they need to talk to someone and sit down, process their emotions, and get some stress management strategies in place,” said Sheila Moran with First Choice Services.

According to a recent poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, 36 percent of Americans say COVID-19 is having a serious impact on their mental health and 59 percent says it is having a serious impact on their day-to-day lives.

“There’s a real big need for this in West Virginia. Studies have shown anxiety has gone up tremendously in the United States and West Virginia already was ranked as one of the least mentally healthy states where people were suffering from a lot of anxiety and depression. This pandemic has certainly worsened that,” she said.

First Choice Services already operates the Help4WV addiction and mental health line, the Problem Gamblers Help Network of WV, the Suicide Lifeline, the Tobacco Quitline, the Jobs and Hope program which helps those in recovery find employment, the ACA Navigator program which assists with enrollment in free and reduced-cost health insurance, and 211, which helps locate resources such as food banks and housing assistance.

According to Moran their impact on West Virginians suffering anxiety will be two-fold. They can obviously be a sympathetic ear but moreover also offer professional counseling services on the phone. The conversation alone can help people work through whatever their stressful situation might be. She added because of the other services First Choice provides, they could also direct people to additional resources to get added help.

“If somebody calls and says, ‘I think my husband is an alcoholic.’ We can direct them to resources. If they call and have lost their job and have no money for food or rent, we have a partnership with the United Way to operate the 2-1-1 line to get them to feeding centers and food pantries in their area,” Moran said.

Those suffering added stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic or any other reason can call the helpline at 1-877-HELP-304 or go to help304.com to chat with somebody online.

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