Calls to the Mass 211 hotline have nearly tripled since the Coronavirus pandemic began. The Mass 211 line was created in 2007 so that anyone in the Commonwealth can call or text the three-digit number 24/7 if they need free and confidential help finding information about community services – for example, the closest food pantry, volunteer opportunities, addiction support groups, or childcare options. Suddenly flooded with calls about Coronavirus, a COVID-19 specific line was established.
With rising anxiety around the global pandemic, Riverside joined the Mass 211 COVID-19 line with financial support from the Department of Public Health. Four trained Riverside Trauma Center responders are now on the team of call-takers. While the Riverside responders continue to field calls about non-behavioral health issues, they are also the “go-to” people if a person calling needs specialized behavioral health advice or services.
Brittany Shaw is one of the Riverside Trauma Center responders who is now on the Mass 211 team. While Brittany fields many questions about delayed unemployment checks and Coronavirus symptoms, she is also being routed calls from people who are in emotional distress. For example, she recently spoke with a woman who reported she had disabilities, no television, and no internet connection. The woman had great anxiety due to a lack of information. Brittany was able to provide basic facts about the virus and then helped her formulate coping techniques. “I really feel like I’m helping a lot of people. I’m amazed at how I can make a real connection with people over the phone,” says Brittany, who hopes to stay on the Mass 211 team once the threat of Coronavirus has passed because she finds it so rewarding.
We all hope that in a few months there will be no need for the Mass 211 COVID-19 line, but in the meantime, it is reassuring to know that anyone across the Commonwealth can reach an experienced trauma responder who will help get them through these challenging times.