The Iowa State University Extension Concern Line had no shortage of problems to solve with its free service.
Coordinator Tammy Jacobs says things have remained busy since the spring 2019 floods in western Iowa. “We have received a lot of calls from people who have been affected by the different disasters, whether it is the pandemic or the natural disasters with the storms,” she says.
The number of callers each month ranges from 500 to 1,000. Jacobs says they can help callers with a variety of resources. “Connected them to outreach counsellors, connected them to ongoing longer-term mental health resources. But we also had those who, you know, might have been out of work. So we connected them, we made sure they were all unemployed, if they needed help with food, we connected them with food pantries, and we also helped give them training on SNAP enrollment and food stamps,” she says.
The final problem in Iowa is outbreaks of bird flu. Jacobs says they haven’t had any calls from people stressed out about this yet. “But within Extension, I know there are a lot of farm management specialists working on the ground with people who have been affected,” says Jacobs. “So one of the things they do is provide this Iowa Concern number to let people know we’re here to help. If they are under stress, they can call us and talk to us. ”
She says they are ready to help in these cases if they decide to call. Jacobs says you don’t need to be in the middle of a major disaster to use the service, as many people just need someone to talk to about the ongoing stress. “They’re struggling, and just talking about what’s going on instead of holding back can make a big difference in how they deal with the stress they’re going through,” she says.
There are several ways to talk to someone. You can use the traditional phone call at 1-800-447-1985.
“We also have a live chat and they can access it by simply Googling the Iowa hotline. And then go to the Iowa concern website,” Jacobson says, and through that you can also chat live with us for those who prefer not to speak to us in person. So that would be another option. They can also email us. And we can also respond to them by email.
Jacobs says one of the ways everyone can help with the issues of the day is to stay informed about what’s going on. “That’s one of the best ways to deal with some of these things, make sure the information they get is from credible sources, make sure they take care of themselves by sleeping well, exercising, eating a healthy diet,” according to Jacobs. “All of these things can really help reduce and help individuals manage their stress levels.”
Jacobs says they encourage everyone to do so and if you feel you need additional help, give them a call.