Be Well Crisis Helpline answers the call for Hoosiers in need


A free service that launched in July 2020 has so far helped 6,000 Indiana residents experiencing emotional distress from COVID-19.

The Be Well Crisis Helpline supports the mental health needs of Hoosiers during the pandemic with specially trained counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Jennifer Sullivan, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said each call is a cry for help from a Hoosier experiencing feelings of distress and anxiety likely aggravated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are also comforted to know that through the Be Well Crisis Helpline, they are connecting with someone who can listen, assess their needs and help,” she said.

To reach a counselor, anyone in Indiana can call 211, enter their ZIP code and follow the prompts to reach the helpline.

To date, the helpline has answered 6,049 calls with an average talk time of 18 minutes and 10 seconds and an average wait time of only 16 seconds.

According to data collected by the counselors, 46% of the callers have a preexisting trauma or substance use or mental health problem.

Following their conversations, the counselors referred 29% of the callers to mental health treatment, 24% for additional community-based resources such as food, clothing, housing or utility assistance and another 16% for additional crisis counseling.

“This data tell us that the Be Well Crisis Helpline is playing a critical role in the health care continuum for Hoosiers who feel like they are in distress as a result of this pandemic,” said Jay Chaudhary, director of FSSA’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction.

“Hundreds of our fellow Hoosiers have begun to receive treatment for the mental health issues they face and likely faced prior to COVID-19,” he said. “We strongly encourage anyone who feels like they could use the help to call us at 211.”

Among the top distress reactions counselors are encountering on the calls include isolation or withdrawal, issues with sleep, anxiety or fearfulness and difficulty concentrating.

“We are also getting referrals from first responders who know they can rely on the Be Well Crisis Helpline as a new resource in their toolkit to deal with persons under mental stress,” Chaudhary said. “This helpline has come at the right time for Hoosiers who are under real mental distress and need someplace to turn for help.”

Seymour native Kaylee Odell, who is a master’s level adult outpatient therapist at Meridian Health Services in Muncie, said she feels the helpline can be very beneficial.

“A lot of patients already deal with social anxieties and isolate in their typical day-to-day life,” Odell said. “With COVID, that isolation has intensified.”

She said some people who normally go out about once or twice a week now are not going outside their homes at all.

“A lot of the time, this isolation increases anxiety and depression,” Odell said. “There’s a cycle where they stay in because they’re scared and feel more alone.”

A lot of Odell’s patients already have medical issues, like breathing problems or mobility issues.

“Some of the patients with existing health issues and in the high risk range are terrified of getting COVID,” she said. “Some might have already had trauma in their life, and this is another trauma on top of that.”

Odell said she believes the helpline is a good thing and could bring people hope for the future and some reassurance the pandemic won’t last forever.

The helpline is funded by a Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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