Crisis calls are rising as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to increase

Foundation 2 is seeing an increase in calls to its crisis line since the spread of the novel coronavirus reached Iowa. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)
Foundation 2 is seeing an increase in calls to its crisis line since the spread of the novel coronavirus reached Iowa. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 9:46 PM CDT
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As the number of COVID 19 cases continue to rise throughout the state of Iowa and the rest of the country, crisis counselors said the number of people calling is on the rise as well.

Foundation 2 in Cedar Rapids said they field about 600-700 calls in a typical week. Since Gov. Kim Reynolds recommended schools to close throughout the state last week, that number has gone up. Since last Monday, they have received about 475 calls related to people’s concerns with the virus.

“I’ve noticed a real big uptick in new callers, mostly due to people being very distressed about staying home,” Meadow Amster, a crisis counselor at Foundation 2, said.

Amster is one of many counselors on the other line when people in need call for help. She said people are calling with concerns of anxiety, financial distress, and being depressed.

“An important thing to do is not to tell people that everything is going to be okay or that they aren’t going to get sick,” Amster said. “We don’t know the situation of the person and can’t tell the future. I try to focus on things that are in their control.”

This isn’t something those at Foundation 2 said is only happening locally; Drew Martel, director of crisis services, said the numbers are rising across the country.

“This is a crisis in the world and it’s a unique crisis,” Martel said. “What we are being asked to do during this crisis, isolate, is hard for people to do with mental health issues. Most mental health professionals don’t recommend that, when you are depressed, to isolate.”

Martel said Foundation 2’s programs are all up and running, but changes are having to be made to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Many of the crisis counselors are taking phone calls from home.

“We have a very intricate phone system," Martel said. “We have to have routers or firewalls installed into all of the counselor’s homes. We went to go buy all of those people had started buying all of them up.”

Martell said the mobile crisis team, which would normally go to clients' homes, is now utilizing telehealth in order to social distance themselves.

While the volume of calls is expected to grow as the numbers of positive cases rise in the state, Amster said she wants to continue to be on the other side of the line when needed.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to be discouraged about calling,” Amster said. “I get that a lot from people ‘oh I’m sorry that I’m taking up your time’, I think that every call is important."

If you feel like you need help, the crisis hotline phone number is (319) 362-2174.

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