Lincoln – The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of life around the globe, including in-person recovery and counseling services. During September’s Recovery Month observance – and all year – the Department of Health and Human Services wants to deliver the message that mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and wellbeing, and mental illnesses and substance use disorders are common and treatable. There is help and there is hope.
“Recovery Month emphasizes the need to share resources and build networks across the country to support the many paths to recovery,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. “It reminds us that mental health and substance use disorders affect all of us and that we are all part of the solution. For those in recovery from a serious mental illness or a substance use disorder, the need for help during this pandemic can be magnified. People in need of services may find it difficult to reach out for help, but families and support networks can help make the connection to appropriate resources. Getting help will improve the chances of managing a mental illness or recovering from a substance use disorder, including a co-occurring disorder. It can also reduce or eliminate associated symptoms and save a life.”
Need help for yourself or a loved one? Reach out to your health provider, to faith-based communities, your community center, or a treatment provider near you. There are also a number of resources available to help you. They include:
- The Nebraska Family Helpline, 1-888-866-8660, can help callers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Interpreters are available.
- The Rural Response Hotline, 1-800-464-0258, offers connections to mental health counseling, information regarding legal assistance, financial clinics, mediation and emergency assistance. Interpreters are available.
- If you or a loved one are feeling overwhelmed with emotions, anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or someone else, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255 (English) or 1-888-628-9454.
For those in recovery from a mental health or substance use disorder, social support is crucial since social isolation can be a risk factor for relapse.
- The new Peer Support Warm Line, which has just been introduced by The Connection Project, and its executive director Tommy Newcombe, offers a 24/7 toll-free number, 877-823-8992, that connects callers with peer support specialists who are in recovery and helps facilitate access to other services.
Although face-to-face interaction is a key feature of recovery support, virtual meetings can be an important resource during this pandemic. For those with internet access, sites such as https://www.shatterproof.
DHHS and its partners are also holding events this month to reduce stigma and normalize conversations about mental health and substance use disorders.
Additional initiatives include:
Statewide: DHHS invites you to light a virtual candle for the annual Lights of Hope virtual event at: http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/
Facebook Live sessions are being held to share recovery journeys.
- The first in the series, with Dr. Jeff Fraser, is posted on the DHHS Facebook page, as is the second segment, which features Dr. Ken Zoucha, assistant professor of psychiatry, addiction medicine division director and addiction medicine fellowship program director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
- Additional FB Live sessions will take place throughout September.
Region 2: Due to COVID-19 constraints, Behavioral Health Region 2 in west-central Nebraska is undertaking a virtual letter writing and media campaign, designed to raise awareness. For more information, contact Corey Brockway at email@example.com.
Kearney: On Sunday, Sept.13 at 6:30 pm, there will be a socially distanced Lights of Hope event at the Harmon Park Sonortorium Stage. It will include keynote speakers, music, tributes and music. For more information, contact Tammy Fiala at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norfolk: Saturday, Sept.19 at 6 pm, there will be a Lights of Hope event at the Connection Project, 204 W. Madison Ave. Tickets are recommended for attendance. For more info, reach out to Heidi Webb at hWebb@region4bhs.org or Tommy at https://www.
Lincoln and Omaha: Many who live with mental health and/or substance use disorders tend to “put on a mask” to cover up the fact that they have these conditions. The Lincoln Regional Center Peer Advisory Council (PAC) is partnering with Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare in sponsoring a creative recovery activity: Mental Health Unmasked. For this activity, masks are to be decorated in order to show who participants are as people. The masks are then photographed and the pictures will be on display on the Region 6 website at www.regionsix.com during the month of September. If you have questions, please contact Jen Hazuka at email@example.com or Scott Loder at Scott.Loder@nebraska.gov .