Four Alliance System of Care (SOC) Coordinators have stepped up to help staff the state’s Hope4NC helpline, which connects North Carolinians to mental health and resilience supports to help them cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ashley Bass Mitchell, Margaret Soler, Sharon Glover and Tanisha Holder normally spend their work days collaborating with agencies and community resource partners to facilitate coordinated, community-based services for individuals, children and families who have mental health issues and other life challenges. The current public health crisis has brought new priorities into focus, however, and the four have taken on temporary additional responsibilities as crisis counselors for the Hope4NC Helpline.
Alliance’s participation in Hope4NC began following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, when North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services created the program to address the mental and behavioral health needs of those affected by the disaster. Alliance staff provided crisis counseling resources for Hope4NC again in 2018 following the catastrophic damage of Hurricane Florence.
The crisis counselors provide short-term interventions including coping strategies and emotional support to help people manage the stress of their situations, and may also refer callers to resources that provide further behavioral or mental healthcare assistance. In addition, they may direct people to food resources and other community supports to provide for basic needs in a time of financial insecurity.
“I have been able to direct a family to food resources so they were able to get enough food for the week,”said Johnston County SOC coordinator Tanisha Holder. She was also able to direct the mother to activities and resources to help keep her kids busy while she got other things done.
Durham County SOC Coordinator Ashley Bass Mitchell said that most of the resource requests she has received have been questions around stimulus checks, food insecurities and connecting to services. “Many people expressed that they were OK but appreciated a listening ear to express their frustrations,” she said.
Margaret Soler, the Wake County SOC Coordinator, collaborated with Cumberland County SOC Coordinator Sharon Glover to help a caller in Cumberland County who had eight children living in her home. “She said that she normally gets her diapers from a diaper bank, but that service had been suspended. I asked Sharon if she knew of another resource in Cumberland, and Sharon was able to track diapers down for her, and I think hand delivered them to her,” Soler said.
For some people, just having someone to call is all they need. “I have had a couple of people who have just wanted to talk to someone other than their family members about how they are feeling,” Soler said.
The Hope4NC Helpline can be reached at 1-855-587-3463. More information on Hope4NC and its companion program, Hope4Healers, can be found here.