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Text line, free Zoom therapy sessions open for mental health support


The coronavirus pandemic has upended lives and, for some, harmed their mental well-being. In response, Transitions Mental Health is adding new features to help people throughout the Central Coast get through these difficult times. 

At the start of the pandemic, Meghan Alvarez with Transitions Mental Health said calls to the SLO Hotline surprisingly didn’t spike. But now, in the last few months, they are starting to see an uptick. 

“I think the wear and tear on us as this drags on is just starting to impact people's mental health," Alvarez said. "That lack of connection, sense of isolation. People are social by nature, and I think that people are really starting to struggle with this.”

To meet the needs, Ileara Brown, program manager for SLO Hotline, said the nonprofit organization is offering two new ways for people to connect.

Both don’t require insurance and have no out-of-pocket cost. One is a ten-12 week Zoom-based therapy program, the other is a texting service, for people who may not feel comfortable calling or seeing someone face-to-face.

The service is now available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and uses the same SLO Hotline phone number, 805-783-0607.

“We are hoping it targets more the 11-to-18 year-old range," Brown said. "Because we’ve noticed they don’t typically call the hotline.”

First year Cal Poly student Julie Martin said she likes the idea of texting someone to talk to. She moved from Morgan Hill and spends most of her day inside her dorm since her classes are via Zoom.

“Personally, it was really hard for me meeting people," Martin said. "Going into college, I feel like everyone hangs out with everyone if it was normal. Here, there’s a restriction on how many people to meet with, hang with. It’s really hard.”

A Cal Poly student from Texas, Tori ToMess said she’s also having a rough time as the pandemic drags on. But she likes the idea of the Zoom therapy option more than the texting one.

“I kind of get sick of typing and it just doesn’t feel authentic," ToMess said. "I really like face-to-face connection.”

No matter what age someone is, and if the problem is big or small, Transitions Mental Health hopes people take advantage of the new features, even if you just need someone to vent to on a bad day.

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