HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - COVID-19 continues to cause problems as people lose jobs, lose lives and have fear about the future.
Mental health, substance abuse and difficulties with fear and isolation continue to plague our communities as a result of the pandemic.
The Commonwealth of Virginia, along with the help of the federal government, created a program to provide a way for Virginians to get help, resources and answers.
Virginia C.O.P.E.S. stands for Compassionate, Optimistic, Person-centered, Empowering and Support.
State officials said VA C.O.P.E.S is available to all Virginia residents who may be struggling to cope with the effects of and circumstances surrounding the pandemic, such as isolation, fear, grief and anxiety. Counselors are prepared to refer and provide additional information to people who call or text.
Officials said it should not be used as an emergency or suicide hotline.
Kristen Tully is the Deputy Director of the program and runs a Warmline. It is similar to a hotline that’s open 24/7, but the Warmline has limited operating hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.
Tully said they have received calls and text messages from men, women and kids of all ages and backgrounds reaching out for help for different reasons.
“We have parents calling; we have youth calling,” said Tully.
She said teens and older adults have called about issues with depression and isolation, and some have called about the loss of a loved one to COVID-19.
She said recently they saw a surge in people calling with questions on how to have a safe holiday gathering.
Tully said they saw a spike in calls this month.
She said they have had 1,033 calls since the program started in June. In the month of November, they had 373 calls.
She said with an unpredictable future and unusual holiday season approaching, they expect that number to rise even more.
“We do anticipate a rise in calls surrounding anxiety and how to mitigate stressors surrounding the holidays,” said Tully.
VA C.O.P.E.S can be reached by phone or text at 877-349-6428. Spanish-speaking counselors are available.
They said the Warmline can be used to provide peer support, to help you identify coping strategies, local area resources and support groups, allow you to vent (without bias), etc. to support your overall, and specifically, your mental health well-being.
A Warmline is not a hotline, which is for individuals in need of emergency services. If you are in crisis, please call the National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or 911.
For more information, click here.