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Indiana unveils mental health, substance use issues resource amid pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana officials unveiled a new resource Monday in an attempt to be a one-stop-shop for Hoosiers trying to cope with mental health or substance use issues during the pandemic.

Rachel Halleck, deputy director and chief of staff in the division of Mental Health and Addiction, told News 8 there’s been a spike in people reaching out to hotlines. One of the most significant increases is from people, especially young people, contacting the crisis textline over their phones.

In an era where there are so many places to turn, not all are accurate, which is why she and other health officials said this new website is needed.

Its address is Its goal is to be the place to turn for people who feel like they are running out of options.

“We are confident it will make a difference,” Halleck said, hopeful it makes a difference in lives regardless of age, income, race or ethnicity.

The coronavirus pandemic is pushing hard against many, not just those with underlying mental health or substance use issues, due to the required isolation.

But with so many layoffs, there a lot of financial fears because of the uncertainty.

That is why officials like Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, secretary of the Indiana Family Social Services Administration, said during the governor’s daily virtual press conference that the website with trusted links, tools and even videos is needed.

“The main points of almost all these videos from the pros is that what you’re feeling is common, it’s OK, and there are things you can do to help yourself as well as people in your family who might be struggling,” Sullivan said.

When someone is struggling, that’s when patience and critical thinking are usually at an absolute minimum.

“We really want to make it so a person doesn’t have to jump from website to website to have to depend on family or their loved ones to vet whether info is accurate,” Halleck said.

There’s a link that allows you to take a mental health snapshot of yourself to help determine if what you’re feeling is normal or if you should seek outside help.

There are even tools for parents for talking with their kids.

Halleck said the most important thing is to validate kids’ feelings and help them put them into words. Allow them to ask questions and then limit their exposure to the news, which is scary enough for adults. Even six weeks into the crisis, “it’s absolutely never too late to talk with your kids about what’s happening.”

While you may not be struggling, don’t assume your loved ones are feeling the same way.

“Share this with friends and family,” Halleck said. “You never know who might be struggling with substance use issues or mental health issues.”

While much of the site currently deals with coronavirus, Halleck said it will change as time goes on and continue to be a go-to resource long after the pandemic passes.