If you’re feeling the stress of pandemic uncertainties and disruptions that are beyond your control, you’re not alone. “Feeling powerless” is a common phrase heard by Support Counselors answering calls at the COVID Support VT helpline (2-1-1, option #2, or 866-652-4636, option #2).
The free confidential helpline is part of a comprehensive effort to support Vermonters’ mental health and well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic. COVID Support VT (COVIDSupportVT.org) helps people cope through health education, emotional support, and connecting people to community services that promote resilience, empowerment and recovery.
“Pandemic-related stress is at an all-time high across the country as people face continued restrictions to daily activities and concerns for safety amid rising case numbers,” says Cathy Aikman, project director of COVID Support VT. “We’re here to tell Vermonters that they are not alone, that we are here to help.”
Support Counselors are trained to provide emotional support and a listening ear, as well as tools for managing stress and creating a personal mental-wellness plan “Vermonters are resilient,” says Cath Burns, Ph.D., clinical supervisor for COVID Support VT. “We are here to help them successfully manage these stressful times.”
Current programs and services provided by COVID Support VT include:
- One-on-one confidential phone counseling available Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Dial 2-1-1, option #2, or 866-652-4636, option #2) and access to 24/7 crisis lines.
- A Weekly Wellness Group focused on learning self-care strategies, offered via Zoom or phone on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Regularly scheduled virtual workshops such as “Writing Through Covid,” a journaling group; “Wellness Wheel,” an exploration of the eight dimensions of wellness, and Community Resources & Networking Workshops to foster community connections.
- Customized workshops created for senior centers, community organizations, parents, businesses and non-profit organizations to learn about mental wellness, promoting resilience and other topics.
- A comprehensive guide to authoritative and carefully vetted science-based information and resources on mental health and emotional well-being from around the web.
- Self-help resources to help you manage your own care and well-being.
- A library of digital media and original materials for free download, including tips and educational materials, video and audio PSAs, and graphics for use in email and newsletters.
- Educational materials and pre-recorded health messages translated into eight languages prevalent in Vermont BIPOC and New American communities and one-click translation of the entire COVIDSupportVT.org website into nearly 100 languages.
Nearly 1,000 Vermonters accessed the helpline in its first three months, and tens of thousands more have accessed resources and information via the COVIDSupportVT.org website and social media pages. The grant program is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency. It is managed by Vermont’s Departments of Emergency Management and Mental Health and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a network of 16 designated and specialized agencies across Vermont that provide mental-health, substance-use and intellectual- and developmental-disability services and supports in your community.