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Mental health expert weighs in on challenges of social isolation

Lines for Life expects the longer we continue isolating ourselves during the coronavirus outbreak, more calls will come in to their help resource center.

PORTLAND, Ore. — As we adjust to this new normal, whether it's working from home, by ourselves in an empty office or searching for that next job, the feeling of being alone is pretty heavy to bear.

Lines for Life is a 24/7 resource call center for those feeling alone, depressed or isolated from the world.

While everyone else is working remotely, so are the call-takers with Lines for Life.

"We've got clinicians that are ready to take those calls who are feeling isolated or feeling anxious. Any time of uncertainty, is a time when anxiety really seems to go up and so we're here for you and we want you to call in and we we'll talk to you about that," said Greg Borders, chief clinical officer at Lines For Life. "The social isolation is definitely a challenge, it's something that we have heard callers say even before this pandemic happened. What we're trying to do is encourage people to find other ways to reach out to people if they're not able to be with other people in person."

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For instance, call a friend or family member, use a video chat service like Facebook Messenger or FaceTime, or simply get outside and get some fresh air.

While groups of 10 or more banned in multiple states across the country, support groups are having to find new ways to reach those that need them most.

"There's a lot of people who rely on support groups for example to help them get through day to day life. One example that we've been hearing a lot on our drug helpline is that there are certain AA, NA group meetings that have been canceled. Which is really a regular ongoing support for a lot of people," Borders says.

On the Portland Area Intergroup's website, a resource for those trying to find a group meeting, a list of opportunities grows each day as more online meetings are added.

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You can also call the Lines for Life Drug and Alcohol helpline at 800-923-4357 for a listing of online or in-person meetings available.

Borders says that call volumes have stayed steady, but the longer we get used to this new normal, he expects more calls to come in.

"As people feel a little more home-bound and have less access to the stuff they usually do for self care, getting out and about. We'll probably see an increase in calls and hopefully we'll be ready to take those calls."

The best coping mechanism, Borders says, is time.

"Reminding people that things change and hopefully we'll see things get back to normal as a little bit more time goes on," he said.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lines for Life at 800-273-8255, 24/7/365 or Text 273TALK to 839863 8am-11pm PST daily.

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