manar 031120BUNKER HILL - State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is emphasizing the importance of mental health wellness and encouraging Illinois residents to use resources and services available for those experiencing heightened levels of stress related to COVID-19.

“This pandemic has cast a great deal of stress into our lives over a very short period of time,” Manar said. “If you are dealing with heightened levels of anxiety or depression as a result, please know that you are not alone. We are all in this together, and there are people and resources available to help you work through this.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Division is operating Call4Calm, a free emotional support text line for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19.

Illinoisans who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0. Once a resident sends a text to the hotline, within 24 hours they will receive a call from a counselor employed by a local community mental health center to provide support. Individuals can also text key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” and will receive information on pertinent resources and services.

Additionally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has published a COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide to answer frequently asked questions regarding the intersection between the novel coronavirus and people affected by mental illness, their caregivers and loved ones. The guide features FAQs on a variety of topics, from managing anxiety and social isolation to accessing health care and medications.

“Stigma, misinformation, and lack of access to support are just a few factors that can intensify fear and anxiety caused by economic distress,” Manar said. “It’s more important than ever that we look out for friends and neighbors and ensure that we and our loved ones have healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress.”