The COVID-19 pandemic raised new challenges for many of us and brought existing problems into harsh light. When we asked readers how the pandemic changed them, one of the most common responses had to do with feelings of loneliness. Our desire and need for human connection are normal, and COVID-19 isolated individuals in ways not experienced in modern history.
Loneliness can worsen existing problems or cause new ones. When you’re struggling, talking to others can help make sense of the problem so you can begin to solve it. If you’re not engaging regularly with others, you may find it especially difficult to speak up and ask for support when you need it. Fortunately, there are many ways to connect with people, no matter what you need to talk about.
If you experienced drastic changes in your everyday routine, professional or financial uncertainty, social isolation, grief, political anxiety or a combination of these stressors and others, it’s normal to feel low. Mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression, worsen under these conditions.
If you are experiencing persistent or worsening mental health symptoms, reaching out for help is a good first step to feeling better. If available, consider reaching out to a close friend or family member, trusted spiritual leader, physician or mental health care provider.
You can also use one of the following online or telephone supports:
- The Safe + Strong Helpline. Call 1-800-923-4357 (available 24/7).
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness – Oregon offers free online support groups, resources, classes and connection groups.
- Peer Galaxy is an online portal to hundreds of online and in-person support groups in Oregon. Check out their calendar of events.
- Community Counseling Solutions offers free phone support from the David Romprey Oregon Warmline, for anyone: 1-800-698-2392, available daily, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Reach Out Oregon, which provides mental, behavioral and emotional support for parents, has a warm line: 1-833-732-2467, available Mon. through Fri., noon to 7 p.m.
- Depression and Bipolar Alliance offers online support groups for those experiencing mood disorders.
- Dual Diagnosis Anonymous offers online and in-person support groups in Oregon for those experiencing both mental health and substance abuse problems.
- Call 988 to reach the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Youth and older adults
COVID-19 has had a particular impact on the youngest and oldest among us. School-aged students, who were used to the structure and social dynamic of the classroom, were suddenly in virtual classrooms, away from their peers. Seniors, a group already predisposed to loneliness, have to protect themselves at a higher level than others, often missing out on valuable family and friend time.
If you’re in either age group and experiencing challenges, consider calling these resources:
- Oregon Youth Line is a free teen-to-teen crisis support line. Call 1-877-968-8491 or text “teen2teen” to839863.
- Senior Loneliness Line of Oregon is a free statewide call service is for Oregonians 55 and older. Call 503-200-1633.
LGBTQIA2S+ youth and adults are more likely to experience mental health conditions, and isolation can worsen those feelings. If you’re struggling with your gender identity or sexuality and would like to speak with someone, consider these phone resources:
- Trans Lifeline provides trans peer support. Call 877-565-8860.
- Trevor Project offers crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. Call 866-488-7386.
- SAGE National LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline is available toll-free, 24/7, in English and Spanish. Call 877-360-LGBT (5428).
- Call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and hit #3 for support for LGBTQIA2S+ youth and young adults.
Health care workers
Health care professionals and frontline workers work tirelessly to keep the rest of us safe, often sacrificing their own physical and mental health. If you’re a health care worker who is struggling or feeling overwhelmed, consider reaching out to one of these resources:
- Therapy Aid Coalition provides free therapy for frontline health care professionals, including individual and group support.
- The Emotional PPE Project connects health care professionals with licensed mental health professionals who can help.
Those with pre-existing conditions that put them at risk for severe illness have often been more isolated, for longer stretches of time. Navigating reintegrating into a changing world while trying to keep yourself healthy and safe can be hard and stressful. If you need support, consider reaching out to these resources: