New mental health services available in Wisconsin

People have been living in a pandemic for nearly a year now and it's taking a toll on many people's mental health. But there are new services in Wisconsin to help anyone struggling during this time. 

With most human interaction being forced online – or over the phone, the sound of someone's voice signals comfort to those listening. It's that lack of physical interaction that's leaving many mental health issues unanswered.

"There’s a lot of people who are trying to access mental health services, there just aren’t enough providers," Shelly Missall said.

A new call center expanded just in time as COVID-19 cases continue to spike. 

People in Wisconsin calling into the National Suicide Prevention lifeline are now more likely to be connected with someone in-state. 

“Wisconsin was previously answering about 30% of national suicide lifeline calls in state and with the addition of Wisconsin lifeline we’ve escalated that to near 90%," said Missall.

The Wisconsin Lifeline Call Center Green Bay office covers 65 counties in Wisconsin, connecting callers with local resources. 

Averaging 40 calls a day, those on the other end of the line experience anything from emotional distress to simply wanting to chat. 

"We have a lot of mental health things going on, we have a lot of isolation, we have a lot of relationship issues," Missall said.

Relationships are a tough road to navigate for some during the pandemic. 

“If there had been violence in the home, that’s a difficult place to be stuck when you can’t get out and socialize," Sharain Horn said.

Horn, the executive director for Aurora's Healing and Advocacy Services says domestic abuse or sexual assault victims aren't seeking in-person care as they typically would. 

"People are fearful of coming out, they’re fearful of coming to a hospital setting because of their risk of transmission of COVID-19," said Horn.

But the hotline service phones are ringing more than usual -- making it clear the need is there now more than ever. 

Horn encourages anyone to call or text the hotline for help. 

"People are probably sitting at home with injuries. We want them to know they can still seek the health care and help that they need and we’ll get them connected with advocacy," Horn said.

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While many miss face-to-face conversation, compassion can still make its way through a phone call. And a simple dial of 10 numbers — can save a life. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any emotional or physical distress, there are resources available:

Help is also available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline -- 1-800-273-8255.