A federal grant of $1.6 million will fund a hotline to help Montanans with mental health challenges stemming from the pandemic.
The grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration was announced by the governor's office Monday.
The Montana Crisis Recovery hotline is available at 1-877-503-0833. The service is free and meant to target health care workers, first responders, those who work at schools, veterans, the elderly, Native Americans and farmers and ranchers.
Trained crisis counselors staff the line Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The state health department and Disaster and Emergency Services division worked together to apply for the grant.
“As COVID-19 cases rise across Montana, the impacts on mental health can be devastating to a wide range of the population,” Zoe Barnard, Addictive and Mental Disorders Division administrator at the Department of Public Health and Human Services, said in a press release. “A crisis counselor can offer an empathetic ear and provide support.”
The counselors are trained to help people with feelings of isolation, loss, fear, uncertainty, depression and anxiety.
The health department has contracted with Mental Health America of Montana to run the hotline. There will be 12 trained crisis counselors, and the agency is working to hire two counselors who are members of Montana Indian tribes. The department is also working with Montana Hospital Association, Voices of Hope, Kauffman & Associates Inc., and the Montana Public Health Institute to find counselors and help inform people that the service is available.
There are several other mental health resources available, including the Montana Crisis Text Line, Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Montana Warmline and Thrive by Waypoint Health.
The Crisis Text Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by texting MT to 741 741. The Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-273-TALK (8255).
The Warmline is available Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 9 p.m., at 877-688-3377. Information about Thrive by Waypoint Health, an online cognitive behavioral therapy for those actively working to manage anxiety and stress, is available at https://thriveformontana.com/.