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New text line offers gateway to mental health services during pandemic

New Jersey residents now have access to free and confidential emotional support via text being provided by the Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

By texting NJHOPE to 51684, New Jerseyans can connect with a trained specialist to chat about the emotional impact of these challenging times as well as access education, information and referrals daily, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to a press release from the MHANJ.

People may also opt in for comforting care messages delivered via mobile phone to help them cope with emotional stress on a longer-term, ongoing basis, according to the press release.

In addition to the new texting option, individuals may call for emotional support and referrals by dialing New Jersey Mental Health Cares Helpline at 866-202-HELP (4357), daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Requests for crisis counseling and information about a variety of virtual support groups are also available as necessary through the helpline and texting service, according to the press release.

These services are provided free through the New Jersey Hope and Healing Crisis Counseling Program (CCP).

The MHANJ in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services is offering the CCP through a grant, according to the press release.

The texting service offers mobile engagement which may be especially appealing to younger residents and others who have access to and prefer using a cell phone.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 reported experiencing anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms in June, the highest rate of any age group.

“The new text line is an important tool as New Jersey residents continue to cope with the realities of COVID-19,” said Racheal O’Dea, a director at the MHANJ who is leading the association’s New Jersey Hope and Healing texting service.

“It is evident this pandemic is greatly impacting the mental and emotion well-being of young Americans. Coupled with the New Jersey Mental Health Cares Helpline and virtual support groups, New Jerseyans now have access to a variety of free, confidential services to provide support in a manner that best suits their needs,” O’Dea said.

For more information, visit www.mhanj.org

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