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HOUSTON (CW39) Wednesday, March 10th marks the day when the state of Texas will no longer have a Mask Mandate and Businesses can open to 100%. While some rejoice, others have trepidation. And some are even experiencing more extreme conditions. That’s why one organization wants to remind people, they are here to help you.

The Harris Center for Mental Health and Intellectual Development and Disability (The Harris Center) has a free 24/7 Mental Health Support Line for Houstonians who might be experiencing anxiety, stress, or emotional challenges, due to the Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order lifting the mask mandate and reopening Texas. The support line, that was launched last March, continues to offer trauma-informed support and psychological first aid, as the pandemic brings new challenges.

The Center has already received over 10,000 calls from 191 counties in Texas. A majority of the calls have been for emotional support, COVID-19 testing and vaccination access and information. And as businesses finalize their plans on whether to lift their safety measures or continue current safety measures, The Harris Center anticipates more calls will be coming in.

“Approximately 53% of adults reported that the stress of COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health. We understand that this could be a very difficult time.” said Wayne Young, CEO, of the Harris Center. “We want Houstonians to know, that they are not alone, and it can be helpful to talk to someone. Needing help is normal, and trained and caring responders are one call away to listen and help, 24 hours a day.”

According to Neal Sarahan, Executive Director, at The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Houston, people already living with mental illness are now also affected. People who are not affected by mental illness are now also stressed and their mental wellness is challenged. Their symptoms must be taken seriously as short-term mental health problems can lead to clinical anxiety and depression. The confidential support line can offer resources and support and is available for all Texans through the Texans Recovering Together Program. The line partners with Universe Translation Services and offers over 100 different language options.

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Harris County and the surrounding Greater Houston counties lead the numbers of calls answered in Texas. The support line has answered calls from individuals as young as 18 to 64 plus. More than half of the callers are reaching out for emotional support. Mental health responders provided a variety of techniques for immediate treatment including breathing practices, meditation, as well as resources for long-term care.

As the pandemic continues to bring new challenges, mental health can be impacted at any time and to anyone whether they suffer from mental health issues or new issues arise. The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD encourages individuals and loved ones to lookout for signs and symptoms and seek immediate attention for help.

For more information, check out The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD Website, or call the Support Line 24/7 at 1-833-986-1919.

The Harris Center is the state-designated Local Mental Health Authority and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Authority serving Harris County, Texas. As the largest behavioral and developmental disability care center in Texas, The Harris Center provided care to over 70,000 people in fiscal year 2020.

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