KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WFRV) – It’s been a month since a public health emergency was declared in Wisconsin because of COVID-19, raising people’s anxieties all across the state. But if you’re feeling anxious or isolated help is just a text away.
With COVID-19 found across the nation the founder of the Center for Suicide Awareness says people are feeling stressed.
“People have anxiety, people are uncertain and it’s stressing their mental health,” said Barb Bigalke.
But Bigalke says if you’re among those feeling alone or lost you can find help 24/7, here on the center’s HOPELINE.
“Anyone, anywhere in the state of Wisconsin can text the word HOPELINE to 741741 and you’re immediately connected to a real person. Not only a real person, but a real person who cares,” Bigalke said.
HOPELINE is staffed by trained counselors and mental health professionals, ready to offer emotional support and resources if needed, before a situation becomes a crisis.
“It really is a conversation of saying – we’re going to get through this and we’re going through it together,” she said.
Before the pandemic staff were involved in roughly 800 conversations a month. But that number has since tripled.
“We’re really starting to see anxiety skyrocket, and fear,” said Bigalke.
Bigalke says people are losing jobs, teens are missing school and businesses are shut. But Mike Crum who works with veterans, says HOPELINE allows anyone to speak their minds without being judged,
“And sometimes we just need to express ourselves without somebody throwing in an opinion,” said Crum.
“You’re really just walking through, as if you’re talking to a friend,” Bigalke said.
Talking to people – perhaps isolated at home – who just need some support. That is what HOPELINE provides.
“You’re not alone, isolation doesn’t mean you don’t belong and we have a community that really cares about you,” Bigalke said.
Since 2014, staff on HOPELINE have intervened to help 130 people who were considering taking their own lives.