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'The Intensity Is Different' | Crisis Hotlines See Significant Increases In Volume Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

COLUMBIA, Md. – Calls to the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center have gone up 33% this month.

The Columbia center answers calls for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Maryland's 2-1-1 service, and its own crisis hotline. All three hotlines have seen increases in volume the past month.

"I think there's a great sense of unknown right now across our community, across our country," Grassroots Executive Director Ayesha Holmes said. "Right now, we're all going through something."


Grassroots' 50 crisis counselors are all now working from home as hotline calls are being routed to their personal phones.

"We planned for it for a tornado or something where our building might be down. We never imagined a pandemic," Holmes said. "The intensity is different. People are really sensing the stress around COVID."

Rachael Bender is one of those counselors working from home.

"It's a shared experience that everyone's dealing with, but also everyone's circumstances are really different," Bender said. "People are definitely under a lot of stress, losing their jobs, not knowing when they'll be able to work again."

Walk-in counseling has been suspended, Bender said. But, all other services, including crisis intervention teams, are still active. Many calls are coming from families, with a caller as young as seven years old.

"They can call and just say, 'Hey I need to vent for 5 minutes. My parents are really ticking me off,' and just get it out. That's cool. That's fine. We're here for that, too," Bender said. "Don't feel about doing whatever you need to do to get through it, because these are really crazy, unprecedented times. We're doing our best to figure it all out."

For more information about Grassroots Crisis Intervention, click here.

Grassroots 24-hour Hotline:
(410) 531-6677

Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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