State Launches Washington Listens Hotline to Support People Affected by Stress of COVID-19

The program includes a phone line to speak with support specialists and connect to community resources

Release date: July 6, 2020
Release Number: FEMA R10 COVID-19 NR-003
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OLYMPIA–In response to COVID-19, Washington has launched Washington Listens, a support program and phone line to help people manage elevated levels of stress caused by the pandemic. People who call the Washington Listens support line will speak with a support specialist and get connected to community resources in their area. The program is anonymous.

“Washington Listens helps people cope and strengthen their resiliency in these uncertain times,” said Sue Birch, director of the Washington State Health Care Authority, the agency managing the program. “It complements the state’s behavioral health response services by providing an outlet for people who are not in crisis but need an outlet to manage stress.”

“This pandemic has had far-reaching effects that extend beyond our physical health. We are still in this fight against this virus, and this assistance will help Washingtonians recover during this uniquely stressful time,” said Mike O’Hare, FEMA Region 10 administrator.

The Washington Listens support line is 1-833-681-0211. It is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. TTY and language access services are available by using 7-1-1 or their preferred method.

Providers and tribes that have partnered with Washington Listens include American Indian Community Center, Colville Tribe, Community Integrated Health Services, Crisis Connections, Frontier Behavioral Health, Okanogan Behavioral Healthcare, and Swinomish Tribe.

The Washington Listens support line is made available by a $2.2 million Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) grant funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This program supports short-term interventions to mitigate stress, promote the use or development of coping strategies, and provide emotional support to help Washingtonians understand and process their stress.

Resources and self-help tips are available on walistens.org.

Washington State EAP COVID-19-related Webinars for July and August

The Washington State Employee Assistance Program, EAP, is offering webinars on a variety of COVID-19 related topics to support emotional and mental health and wellbeing. Register for an upcoming live session or view a pre-recorded session on-demand below. More sessions will be added regularly.

EAP also has a website with links by topic to helpful resources from addiction to finances to parenting to support for marginalized communities.

Navigating Change in Challenging Times

In our ever changing world, learning how to navigate change is an essential skill—one that can be developed. In this webinar we’ll talk about the impact of change, actions you can take to navigate change based on your unique response to stress, and resources available to support you.

  • Friday, July 24, 2020 8:30-10:00am  Register
  • Tuesday, July 28, 2020  3:30-5:00pm  Register
  • Wednesday, August 5, 2020 2:00pm-3:30pm  Register
  • Tuesday, August 11, 2020  10:00am-11:30am  Register
  • Thursday, August 20, 2020  9:30am-11:00am  Register
  • Thursday, August 27, 2020  1:00pm-2:30pm  Register

Navigating Change Handouts:

Self Care with the WA State EAP

This webinar addresses the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and offers ideas for self-care and strategies for managing stress and fear.

  • Wednesday, July 22, 2020  3:00-4:30pm  Register
  • Monday, July 27, 2020  2:00-3:30pm  Register
  • Tuesday, August 4, 2020  8:30am-10:00am  Register
  • Thursday, August 13, 2020  1:00pm-2:30pm  Register
  • Tuesday, August 25, 2020  8:30am-10:00am  Register

How to Build Resilience When Your Job Involves Helping Others in Crisis

This webinar is intended for those who are supporting others in crisis e.g. customers, clients, students, employees/staff. During this webinar you will learn how your mind and body responds to stress, possible impacts on your emotional and physical well-being, strategies to build resilience, and supports and resources available to you.

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2020  8:30-10:00am  Register
  • Wednesday, July 29, 2020  2:00-3:30pm  Register
  • Thursday, August 6, 2020  9:30am-11:00am  Register
  • Wednesday, August 12, 2020  8:30am-10:00am  Register
  • Tuesday, August 18, 2020  8:30am-10:00am  Register

For more information about the Washington State Employee Assistance Program or to view other COVID-19 related resources, please visit

Washington State Employee Assistance Program

Phone: (360) 407-9490 or toll-free at (877) 313-4455

Visit the EAP website.

Many of us are now experiencing depression or anxiety. Here’s how to recognize signs and get help

depression

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Washington State Employee Assistance Program’s July Newsletter.

Nearly one third of adults in the U.S. now show signs of clinical levels of depression or anxiety, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).  For some, it can be difficult to know when to reach out for professional help.  Please consider contacting the EAP for support, at 877-313-4455, if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • a traumatic event or vicarious trauma leads to prolonged symptoms of re-experiencing (flashbacks, nightmares), avoidance (of thoughts, people, situations), negative thoughts and mood (shame, fear), and arousal & reactivity (irritable, angry, reckless, issues with concentration or sleep).
  • anxiety causes you to worry excessively in intensity, frequency, or amount of distress it causes, or when you find it difficult to control the worry (or stop worrying) once it starts.
  • you are feeling little interest or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed, or you are feeling down, depressed, hopeless, or are having thoughts of suicide.

In the NCHS survey, Black and Latinx/Hispanic adults were more likely to report anxiety or depression than whites or Asians. This tragic yet unsurprising result makes sense, given the harsh realities and impacts of longstanding systemic racism in our country coupled with the disproportionate health and economic burden of COVID on BIPOC. Know that EAP is committed to and is actively working to dismantle oppression within our program and services. We wholeheartedly support your right to have a safe space in counseling, and you are welcome and encouraged to ask for a counselor who identifies as a person of color—we will do our best to accommodate your request.

For additional resources, check out our COVID-19 Resources and Racism & Mental Health Resources pages.

Remember: you are irreplaceable, and your mental health and wellbeing are precious. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, at 877-313-4455.

State Employee Assistance Program Webinars for the Month of June 2020

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The Washington State Employee Assistance Program is offering webinars on a variety of COVID-19 related topics to support emotional and mental health and wellbeing. Register today for these upcoming live webinars:

*New* Couples: Managing Your Way through COVID-19 (live)

  • Thursday, June 4, 2020 4:00-4:30 pm – Register
  • Friday, June 12, 2020 3:30-4:00 pm – Register

Self Care with the WA State EAP (live)

  • Tuesday, June 2, 2020 8:30-10:00 am – Register
  • Wednesday, June 10, 2020 3:00-4:30 pm – Register
  • Monday, June 15, 2020 1:30-3:00 pm – Register

Washington: Coming Together to Learn, Support, & Connect (live)

  • Thursday, June 4, 2020 12:00-12:30 pm – Register
  • Thursday, June 11, 2020 12:00-12:30 pm – Register
  • Thursday, June 18, 2020 12:00-12:30 pm – Register

How to Build Resilience When Your Job Involves Helping Others in Crisis (live)

  • Monday, June 1, 2020 3:00-4:30 pm   – Register
  • Monday, June 8, 2020 8:30-10:00 am – Register
  • Thursday, June 18, 2020 9:30-11:00 am – Register
  • Thursday, June 25, 2020 3:00-4:30 pm – Register
EAP also has a website with links by topic to helpful resources from addiction to finances to parenting to support for marginalized communities.

Employee Assistance Program Webinars for Week of May 4-8

home office

EAP is offering webinars on a variety of COVID-19 related topics to support emotional and mental health and wellbeing. Register today for these upcoming live webinars:

Working from Home during COVID-19: Coping with the Challenges, Setting Yourself Up for Success (live)

  • Monday May 4, 2020  2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Register

Self Care with the WA State EAP (live)

  • Tuesday May 5  3:30 p.m. -5:00 p.m.  Register

How to Build Resilience When Your Job Involves Helping Others in Crisis (live)

  • Tuesday, May 5, 2020 9:00-10:30am  Register
  • Thursday, May 7, 2020 9:30-11:00am  Register

Washington: Coming Together to Learn, Support, & Connect (live)

  • Wednesday, May 6, 2020 9:00-9:30am  Register

Leading Teams and Supporting Employees through COVID-19 (live)

  • Wednesday, May 13 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.  Register.

EAP also has a website with links by topic to helpful resources from addiction to finances to parenting to support for marginalized communities.

Webinars This Week for Navigating through COVID 19

home office

Many of us may not be able to work from the office right now. It’s a new work environment, for sure. However, webinars are abound! ICSEW has pulled together a list of webinars anyone can access while they’re working at home this week. Most are free.

A Human Workplace: Working Alone Together

A Human Workplace is offering more sessions to build emotional well-being and lower stress from the impacts of remote work, isolation and pandemic overwhelm. These are not webinars or training. Instead, join for an experiential gathering to engage with people to boost your oxytocin through connection, conversations, and meaningful reflection. 

If you missed the other sessions or just want to attend again, join in April 23 at 8:30 am PDT for Working Alone Together: Register here 

If you are a leader, you face unique challenges right now. Join other leaders on Friday April 24 at 10:30 am PDT for Leading Alone Together: Register here.

Or find more sessions next week on the Gatherings page of A Human Workplace.

The Remote Boss, Communications Skills for Success 

The Remote Boss: Friday, May 1, join with Betty Lochner for a virtual workshop titled Surviving and Thriving as a Virtual Supervisor. You can learn more and get registered here. It’s $97 and includes the workshop and replay, Q & A, and lots of resources to help you thrive in our new normal. Communication Skills for Success (CSS) : This course includes skill building, expert coaching, personalized feedback and guidance to build your communication skills, confidence and ability that you can put to work right away at work and at home. You can get all the details and join us in the course here: Communication Skills for Success.  Register by April 30 and get The Remote Boss workshop for FREE! 

Employee Assistance Program

Washington State’s Employee Assistance Program has a wide selection of live and recorded  The Washington State Employee Assistance Program has a wide selection of live and recorded webinars. Selections have multiple sessions each week. T

Strategies to Support Each Other through COIVD-19

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Washington State Employee Assistance Program’s April 2020 Newsletter

lotus blossom in pond
Image from Pixabay

Here are a couple of strategies you can try right away to help all of us be our better selves and work together through the COVID-19 outbreak, adapted from the Greater Good in Action and Center for Healthy Minds websites:

Maintain a calm, stable presence

We know that maintaining a sense of calm presence is better for us, our families, our workplaces and our communities. And, we’re human, so sometimes without realizing it we suddenly find ourselves caught up in anxiety and fear – maybe we feel our racing heart, or hear our irritated voice while talking to our child or partner or colleague.

How can we regain our sense of calm? In addition to taking a walk or talking with a calm friend, another way to find a sense of calm is by shifting your breathing pattern so your out-breath extends longer than your in-breath. This activates the vagus nerve, the major channel of the parasympathetic nervous system that helps us to “rest and digest.” Following stimulation of the vagus nerve, your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure decreases, your muscles relax and your body calms. The vagus nerve communicates your body’s new sense of calm to your brain, so the brain relaxes as well, and you experience a sense of peacefulness. To try this practice, breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds and out through your mouth for 6 seconds. Start with 6 cycles, which will take about 1 minute.

Remember our common humanity: combat stigma and cultivate loving kindness

Throughout human history, marginalized groups have been scapegoated and blamed for disease outbreaks and other crises. During the current COVID-19 outbreak, news reports have continued to show people of Asian descent across the US being attacked, harassed, shunned or otherwise victimized because the virus appears to have originated in China. In addition, some political leaders and media influencers have referred to COVID-19 by names that encourage stigma and bias, such as “the Chinese virus” or “Kung flu.”

What can we do? We can speak up to combat racism and stigma, refer to the virus by its official names of “COVID-19” or “Coronavirus”, model acceptance and compassion to our children and take other anti-racist actions. In addition, we can consciously practice loving kindness. Studies show that a loving kindness practice is one of the most effective ways to increase empathy and compassion for others and potentially decrease bias towards stigmatized groups. And, when people feel more connected to others, they feel a greater sense of personal happiness. Try this 15 minute loving kindness practice.

For additional tools and resources, see EAP’s COVID-19 Resources page or contact the EAP for further support, at 1-877-313-4455.

Webinars: Successful Teleworking and Working through Family Challenges During COVID19

kid and parent sitting at computer
image form pixabay.com

The Washington State Employee Assistance Program has a series of upcoming webinars on successfully  working from home and coping with challenges during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which are open to all state employees. 

Upcoming Live Support Webinars

EAP is offering webinars on a variety of COVID-19 related topics to support emotional and mental health and wellbeing. Register for an upcoming live session or view a pre-recorded session on-demand below. More sessions will be added regularly.

EAP also has a website with links by topic to helpful resources from addiction to finances to parenting to support for marginalized communities.

Self Care with the WA State EAP (live)

This webinar addresses the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and offers ideas for self-care and strategies for managing stress and fear.

Monday April 20  10:00 a.m. -11:30 a.m.  Register Today

Thursday April 23 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Register Today 

Leading Teams and Supporting Employees through COVID-19 (live)

Tuesday April 21 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.   Register Today

Wednesday April 22  3:00 p.pm. – 4:30 p.m.  Register Today

Working from Home during COVID-19: Coping with the Challenges, Setting Yourself Up for Success (live)

Tuesday April 21  3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.     Register Today

Parenting and Family Challenges: Helping Yourself and Your Family through COVID-19

This webinar will offer insight into likely parenting and family challenges and tips and strategies to help support your family’s emotional health and wellbeing.

Monday, April 20, 2020  2:00pm-3:30pm   Register Today

Wednesday, April 22, 2020  10:00am-11:30am  Register Today

Thursday, April 23, 2020  9:00am-10:30am  Register Today

See all COVID-19 Related Webnairs & Resources

Six Tips to Strengthen Your Immune System

woman jumping

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Washington State Employee Assistance Program’s April 2020 Newsletter

Strengthen Your Immune System

You and your family are working hard to limit your exposure to COVID-19 by social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces and more: all of the actions recommended by the CDC, Washington State Department of Health and World Health Organization (WHO). What else can you do? To support your immune system to function at its best, it’s more important than ever to take these commonly recommended self-care actions:

1) get adequate sleep (7-9 hours for most folks)

2) eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants

3) move your body regularly

4) avoid smoking and heavy alcohol/substance use

5) maintain a healthy weight

6) manage your stress. This advice is even more important for older adults because they are at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as the immune system becomes less efficient with age.

Examine gaps in your immune system maintenance plan, and talk to your medical doctor, health/wellness adviser or an EAP counselor for support with healthier self-care actions and overcoming any roadblocks. You can also watch the EAP’s on-demand webinar on self-care during COVID-19 or visit our COVID-19 Resources page to sign up for an upcoming live webinar.

Upcoming Webinars

home office

As more and more employees begin teleworking as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, more companies are offering professional development webinars you can take from home online.

Here are some training and support offerings from Compass Consulting and The Athena Group:

For those of you who missed the last Compass Consulting webinar, here is the recording of the Manage Stress during Difficult Times webinar:

Manage Stress during Difficult Times

1-hour Webinar

Facilitated by Amy Leneker

The Athena Group is offering various types of support from expert coaches and consultants, including free online webinars, resources for managers, coaching consultations and more. Explore current support . This web page will be continuously updated as new challenges and needs arise.

Centering Sessions Live Online Guided Meditation

Thursdays 10:00 – 10:30am PDT Starting April 9 Donation-Based

“We know you are holding a lot, both personally and professionally, and we know proven tools that can help. Whether you’re new to meditation or are a seasoned practitioner, you are welcome to join us for live, online, guided meditation sessions. These short sessions are open to all, so you can regroup, center yourself and find the ground under your feet.” This training does not have a set fee, as it is donation based.  >>> Click here to learn more & reserve your seat.