U.S. Disaster Distress Helplines Notices 891% Surge in Calls Due to COVID-19
The national hotline offering emergency assistance to people affected by emotional distress has received almost nine times more calls than it did this in 2019, with thousands of Americans reaching out for assistance amid the coronavirus disaster in response to the U.S. delegates.
Federal officers on the front lines of the U.S. government’s pandemic response have privately warned members of the White House and Division of Homeland Security that many more Americans will find themselves in “dire straits” over the upcoming weeks and that U.S. agencies have yet to correctly prepare for the heightening psychological health crisis.
Although the Trump administration has recently accredited millions of dollars in federal funding to boost psychological health services, the official suggested even that further money may not be enough to support the disaster counseling that will be required.
In March, the Disaster Distress Helpline at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration noticed an 891% increase in calls compared with March 2019, according to a spokesperson for the agency, which is a part of the Division of Health and Human Services.
The agency’s spokesperson wouldn’t provide specific total figures; however, the U.S. official stated that in March, the agency received over 22,000 calls and text messages seeking assistance.