Mental help resources available to Pennsylvanians struggling during COVID-19

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HARRISBURG (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – The Wolf Administration has set up resources for Pennsylvanians who are struggling with mental health and thoughts of suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and spread awareness for suicide prevention this month, I urge you to connect with your loved ones and check in on them,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “You can show your support for anyone struggling by ensuring they feel safe and supported. To those struggling, please know you are never alone and help is available.”

The Wolf Administration worked with the General Assembly and other agencies to release the Pennsylvania Statewide Suicide Prevention Plan. The plan is a four-year strategy to reduce suicides “by fighting stigma, increasing training and education on suicide and mental health, improving data collection for suicide, and supporting clinical practices and treatment to prevent suicide and help those who are struggling or in crisis know that things can and will get better.”

The Pennsylvania Suicide Prevention Task Force will work with stakeholders at local, regional, and state levels to monitor the implementation of the plan.

The task force will promote early identification and referral of adults at risk, increase capacity for behavioral health providers to screen, assess, manage and treat those as risk, work to support care transitions, reentry, and follow-up, and continue care.  This will be done with the help of grant money the DHS received from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant money includes $400,000 per year for three years.

“Difficult emotions and crisis can make people feel isolated and cut off, but no one is alone, and we must always know that help and support are always available,” said Teresa Miller, Human Services Secretary. “We all have a role to play in fighting that stigma around mental health and supporting people through difficult times. If you or someone you know has struggled with mental health or suicidal thoughts, we encourage you to reach out. Check in. Remind them that you are here for them. These small gestures can make an impact for someone who is struggling, and it may save a life.”

In 2018, there were 2,017 people who committed suicide in Pennsylvania. The CDC states that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more than twice as many lives as homicide each year.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal ideation, here are resources that are free and available 24/7:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
The Spanish-language National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-888-628-9454
For the Mental Health Crisis Text Line: Text PA to 741741
Support and Referral Helpline: 1-855-284-2494.
For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.
TrevorLifeline for LGBTQ individuals: 866-488-7386
Trans Helpline: 877-565-8860