Much like what we experienced during the financial crisis of 2008, this year we are seeing another sharp rise in unemployment and an increasing need for assistance with basic necessities. As an important member of the local social safety net, the trustee’s office continues to work to help support Wayne Township citizens who may be struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve been operating remotely, some of us from home and some from our Superior Street offices, over email, with phone calls and by using the US postal service. While the ideal for us is to meet with clients person-to-person, during this time of masks and social distancing we are happy that we have been able to stay open and available to our community, fulfilling our mandate to serve the public.
While the main thrust of our work is to prevent the loss of housing and utility service due to a loss of income or other financial emergency the trustee’s office also serves to connect our clients with other community services besides township assistance. In our work with clients we often connect them with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) to make sure they are getting any benefits they may be eligible for through them such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), TANF—Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Medicaid.
Through the Indiana Township Association we were informed of new service available to all Hoosiers that we can use to refer clients to other services they may need, including help with stress. On July 15, FSSA announced the launch of the Be Well Crisis Helpline, a confidential resource available through Indiana 211 that will allow Hoosiers to call and speak with a trained counselor at anytime of day or night—24/7.
According to their press release, “The free Be Well Crisis Helpline was established by FSSA’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction in direct response to the elevated levels of stress and anxiety Hoosiers are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
COVID-19 has caused a rise in mental health-related issues across Indiana and the entire country, including new stresses brought on by social isolation and the lack of traditional support systems such as family, friends, schools, religious and other community organizations. For many Hoosiers, anxiety regarding financial stress, grief and loss over bereavement and the loss of one’s ‘normal routine,’ along with all of the unknowns regarding COVID-19, is overwhelming.
“With the Be Well Crisis Helpline, our intent is to provide easy and free access to counselors who can listen and help by simply calling 2-1-1,” said Jennifer Sullivan, M.D., M.P.H., FSSA secretary. “As Hoosiers continue to cope with the ‘new normal’ of life during a pandemic, with massive disruptions in their everyday lives, and with emotions ranging from bored to terrified, it was imperative to build a helpline that could literally be a lifeline for many.”
Indiana 211 is a free service that connects Hoosiers with assistance and answers from thousands of health and human service resources across the state — quickly, easily and confidentially. Earlier this month, Indiana 211 officially became part of FSSA, helping enable specialized programs such as the Be Well Crisis Helpline as needed.
“By calling 2-1-1 (and selecting 3), callers will connect with an experienced and compassionate counselor specially trained to help with issues triggered or worsened by COVID-19,” said Jay Chaudhary, J.D., DMHA director. “The trained counselors will be able to listen, provide support and promote personal resiliency.”
The Be Well Crisis Helpline is funded by a Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In Indiana the program becomes part of the state’s new Be Well Indiana initiative. Additional information about the mental health resources available to Hoosiers is available at BeWellIndiana.org.