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.

Staying at Home and its Impact on Your Mental Health

woman sitting in front of laptop chewing a pencil

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

Is Staying Home Putting Your Safety or Mental Health at Risk?

Social distancing, working from home, self-quarantining, sheltering in place…we are all implementing some combination of these COVID-19 responses to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe. But actions that keep us at home and away from public spaces put some community members at risk in other ways. For example, those who are living with an abusive partner or a person with a substance use disorder are now more likely to be exposed to unsafe situations. And those who struggle with depression, anxiety or substance use may be feeling isolated and lonely, with worsening symptoms.

Sound familiar? Reach out for help now – call 9-1-1 if you or someone you know needs urgent help, call the EAP at 877-313-4455, or contact one of these resources:

·         Domestic Violence/Abuse

·         Suicide/Depression/Anxiety

Also see Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty and Coping with Stress During an Infectious Disease Outbreak

Upcoming Online Training: 3 Ways to Manage Stress in Uncertain Times

Stress Management

by Rachel Friederich, ICSEW Communications Chair

In light of current events, many state workers have been encouraged to telework. Amy Leneker, who has presented at many ICSEW meetings and is the founder of Compass Consulting is offering three upcoming training sessions on how to manage stress in uncertain times.  The courses are online, so you can participate from home!

3 Ways to Manage Stress in Uncertain Times

  • April 1 from 10:00 – 11:00 am
  • April 1 from 1:30 – 2:30 pm
  • April 28 from 10:00 – 11:00 am

Register online at www.AmyLeneker.com/Events

Contact:

Amy Leneker, MPA

Leadership Consultant &

Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator

Compass Consulting, LLC

Email     Amy@CompassConsultingTeam.com

Phone   (360) 455-7600

Web      www.CompassConsultingTeam.com

Tips to Keep the Holidays Stress Free

holiday-stress

Editor’s Note: this article first appeared on the Washington State Department of Corrections’ intranet.

The holidays are in full swing. That means extra guests, menu planning, events and managing budgets. Here are some tips on how to manage stress during the festivities.

Tips for Dealing With Holiday Stress 

  • Make Your Well Being a Priority If you don’t take care of yourself no one else will. And if you wish to care for others remember, just like on an airplane, be sure to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs.                                   
  • Identify Your Stressors We all have particular family members or events that press our buttons, it is important that you know what they are. Identifying the problem is the first step to solving one.                                                                                   
  • Plan Proactively Now that you’ve identified your stressors, how can you handle those situations differently? How can you change your attitude toward those people and events to make things tolerable and even meaningful to you?                                   
  • Get Adequate Rest Put down the phone and tablet 30 minutes before you go to bed. Create a schedule that allows for the sleep you need and stick to it. The Walking Dead isn’t just a TV show.                                                                                                            
  • Maintain Healthy Eating Habits Don’t eat your feelings. Fuel your body, live your life and reflect on your feelings. Practice portion control and eat and drink in moderation. Experiment with mindful eating, using the senses in each bite and slowly savoring the flavors and moment.                                                                                
  • Maintain Healthy Exercise Habits Was there ever a better time to begin practicing some healthy stress management? Exercise can help you manage a stressful situation, give you a sense of accomplishment, and give you a pleasant endorphin rush! Remember that exercise comes in many forms, going to the gym, running, walking, actively playing with your pets or kids, dancing, climbing walls, video workouts of all sorts…Anything that gets your blood pumping.                                         
  • Practice Gratitude The holidays are a great time to reflect on the blessings in your lives. Try thinking about a time in the last month when you had a genuine moment of connection with another person, an animal or in nature. Reflect on that experience. What in this experience are you grateful for?                                                   
  • Connect Meaningfully with Others Use the holidays as an opportunity to intentionally spend time with people you care about. The holidays also present several opportunities to volunteer in your community both formally and informally.                                                                                                                                      
  • Have a Sense of Humor It won’t all be perfect, but at least we can laugh about it! Laughter can help you manage the stress and put that stress into the perspective it deserves.  

 Resources

The Department of Enterprise Services offers an  Employee Assistance Program for state workers at: https://des.wa.gov/services/hr-finance/washington-state-employee-assistance-program-eap (877) 313-4455

You can also get help for yourself or a loved one by calling the National Suicide Prevention hotline: (800) 273-8255