Memphis mental health hotline sees increase in calls during pandemic

Increases in number of calls to Memphis Crisis Center during COVID-19 crisis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In these uncertain times, many people are feeling confused, anxious or even depressed. That has led to an increase in the number of calls to a local mental health hotline number.

Mike Labonte, Executive Director Memphis Crisis Center, says the COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll.

“We’ve already heard from some people who have lost a loved one," said Labonte. “We’ve heard from people who are worried and concerned, people who are dealing with isolation."

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He says there’s been a 20 to 25% increase in call volume to their crisis hotline number 901-CRISIS-7.

The hotline is manned 24 hours, seven days a week by their trained volunteer staff.

Labonte says there are plenty of ways to deal with stress and anxiety including eating right, exercising, and taking a break from the news.

Labonte also says meditation can help. He suggests meditation apps such as “Headspace” and “Insight” to help you along the way.

“They can also take the time to listen to their favorite music, small things, incremental things are the things that can help us," said Labonte. “It’s very, very important that they stay connected with people that they love and that they feel safe talking to.”

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While calls among adults are seeing an increase, Youth Villages is reporting a decrease in calls dealing with children.

“We typically see that kind of numbers decrease when school is out,” said Natasha Bonner of Youth Villages. “So most of the time we’re seeing kids at school when they’re being bullied so that tends to increase their suicidal ideation.”

Youth Villages reports about 200 fewer calls this year compared to this time last year.

They have a partnership with Shelby County Schools to provide counseling for children dealing with a mental crisis.

“I would say we’re kind of actually excited the kids have been using their skills and not utilizing the services as much, that means the parents are doing a diligent job of giving the prescribed medication and making sure the kids are safe at home,” said Bonner.

If you feel like your child needs mental counseling, you can call Youth Villages at 866-791-9226\

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