The Department of Public Health and Human Services announced an expansion of mental health services to help Montanans who may be experiencing a range of emotions because of the current COVID-19 situation.

Zoe Barnard is the administrator of the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division at DPHHS. She said they are concerned about people who feel isolated and need resources right now.

“We know people are feeling that way because we have seen a pretty dramatic increase in the number of callers to a couple of the lines in the state,” Barnard said. “One of those is the National Suicide Hotline, which normally gets about 18 calls a day. Between March 13 and March 31, the two call centers in Montana took 705 calls, which is an average of about 39 calls per day.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

“The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by calling 1-800-272-TALK,” Barnard said. “In Montana, we have two call centers that are staffed by live human beings 24 hours a day. They are going to be talking to another Montanan and they will be connected to that person right away, without being put on hold.”

The Montana Crisis Text Line, which can be accessed by texting “MT” to 741741, is available as well. When a person texts the Text Line, a counselor responds within minutes and is available for any behavioral health crisis.

Due to a surge in calls, DPHHS has also increased availability to the Montana Warmline. The Warmline is a free, confidential service staffed by individuals with lived experience who understand the behavioral health needs of individuals. According to DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan, it provides a friendly and understanding person for those who just need someone to talk to. The Warmline is available at 877-688-3377.

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