Pandemic Helpline Launches For Individuals With IDD, Caregivers

An illustration of COVID-19. (CDC)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a new 24-hour line of support is helping people with developmental disabilities and those who care for them during this difficult time.

The telemedicine line known as Project Connect is free and available at all times to people with disabilities, their families, carers, and other members of their support teams across the country.

The hotline, developed by The Arc of California and Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare, was launched just before Thanksgiving and is manned by graduates from the school who are overseen by licensed social workers. Callers can expect to receive support, guidance, and recommendations.

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“When we went into the pandemic, we were aware that people with disabilities would be exposed to higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Coupled with a well-documented shortage of mental health services providers, we felt the need to develop an open line of communication for our community as a safety net during this challenging time, ”said Jordan Lindsey, Executive Director of The Arc of California. “With the holidays approaching quickly and the country still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope Project Connect makes mental health support more accessible to those in need.”

Researchers say the effects of COVID-19 on people with developmental disabilities have been stronger than almost everyone else as many have lost access to carers, support services, and school. Surveys of family carers for people with disabilities indicate that this group suffers disproportionately from isolation, fear and other consequences as a result of the pandemic.

The hotline staff stated that it offers the doctoral students involved valuable counseling experience while at the same time supporting people with disabilities and their families in difficult times.

“We hope this free teletherapy line will remind people that they are not alone and that those who feel overwhelmed or struggling will get a glimmer of hope that we can get through and thrive together,” said Lindsey.

Project Connect is available at 888-847-3209.

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