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Grant Will Fund Crisis Counseling For Montanans Dealing With COVID-19 Stress

Montana will receive a federal grant to establish COVID-19 crisis counseling services. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday that it has approved crisis counseling assistance for Montanans struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

FEMA’s Brannen Ulrick says almost everyone is dealing with additional stress and anxiety these days.

"There’s economic stress. There’s the worry around health issues. It’s an extraordinary period for our country. I think those concerns are widespread."

The Crisis Counseling program is overseen by both FEMA and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Logistics, like when this counseling will be available, and funding details for Montana’s program, will depend on state needs, which officials are now assessing.

Once Montana’s plan is approved, crisis and counseling services will be delivered by phone and internet. All visits will be anonymous and crisis counselors will not label or diagnose anyone seeking help. Individuals will initially be offered emotional support and coping strategies. They will then be directed to local mental health service providers.

For immediate help, a Disaster Distress Helpline is available by phone at 800-985-5990.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.