Sen. Rausch (D-Needham) and Samaritans, Inc. of Massachusetts will host a Facebook Live conversation about mental health during COVID-19 on Thursday, Sept. 24 from 4–5 p.m. (link here). This virtual event will cover topics such as symptoms and behavior related to mental health, suicide prevention, and best practices for self-care and supporting loved ones. Rausch and the Samaritans will also answer audience questions about mental health and the pandemic.
This September is National Suicide Prevention Month, occurring in the midst of a historic mental health crisis in the United States. This summer, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 40 percent of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use, and of those, 11 percent seriously considered suicide. Massachusetts crisis line services also experienced a spike in demand, with Boston Samaritans reporting an 84.1percent increase in text messages to its crisis line during the first six months of the pandemic.
“We can all attest to how tough this pandemic has been on ourselves and our families, especially those with young kids.” said Rausch. “Learning the warning signs of mental illness can save lives. Now more than ever, we must support our communities, our families, and ourselves to keep everyone safe and healthy during this period of immense stress and hardship. The Samaritans not only work tirelessly to prevent suicide, but also have phenomenal educational programming to teach people how to support their loved ones.”
“Many of us don’t prioritize our mental health in the best of times, or we make time sporadically for this aspect of our wellness,” said Kathleen Marchi, Executive Director of Samaritans, Inc. “As the pandemic has evolved, there is much to think about in terms of what we focus on, what gets our attention, and what are we willing to sacrifice or not…This time is truly unprecedented, and we can all benefit from some really conscientious mental health awareness, patience with ourselves, and perhaps some additional support, too.”
For over 40 years, Samaritans have provided life-saving suicide prevention services and nonjudgmental support throughout Massachusetts. The service has trained more than 5,250 volunteers in befriending skills, provided suicide prevention workshops to 135,000 individuals, and lent aid and support to 13,000 individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Samaritans continues to expand its crisis services and educate the public on topics in suicide prevention and mental health awareness.