By Paulina Angel | When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, no one had any idea how severe it was going to be, and more importantly, how long it would last. As case numbers increased to the thousands, we found ourselves entering a new but temporary norm where community events, concerts, movie theatres and basically anything that has to do with gatherings being put on hold.
The most important and vulnerable aspect of the human species is community, and being deprived of social interaction can be damaging to a person’s mental health. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Queer Community was hit particularly hard.
As we’ve seen community events such as Prides around the world being canceled, to LGBTQ community centers closing their doors, and adding the political climate of GOP-led states passing Anti-LGBTQ laws, definitely put a strain on the community’s mental well-being.
Now that we are entering a post-COVID world, even though cases are currently on the rise with the new Delta Variant, there is a new project that has been established to provide peer crisis support as part of recovery efforts for California, CalHOPE.
Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and run by the California Department of Health Care Services, California Hope or CalHOPE, provides free outreach, crisis counseling and support services to Californians that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A couple of ways that we provide services to individuals are our CalHOPE Connect online chat that can be accessed via a computer, smartphone or tablet. The other option is our Warm Line, which individuals can call and speak with one of our counselors.
CalHOPE is made up of many teams of Peer Crisis Counselors located in many areas throughout the Golden State such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. We have counselors that specialize in many communities such as Veterans, African-Americans, Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, Parents & Caregivers, Latinx, Youth & Young Adults, and lastly the LGBTQ community.
CalHOPE also provides support groups and workshops, created personally by our many counselors accessible via Zoom or Google Meet. These workshops include topics such as coping with loss, which can range from losing your job to losing a loved one, dealing with anxiety, stress reduction, and more.
Currently, as social distancing restrictions are being lifted, CalHOPE counselors are getting ready to start going out into the community and talk to folks at local community gatherings. A lot of our counselors have so far spoken to folks at vaccination sites and city council meetings, as well as some of the Mini-Pride events that have occurred towards the end of June.
Since the establishment of CalHOPE, we have seen support from organizations that are focused on medical and mental health, local city councils, elected officials, and several universities in California, as well as the Los Angeles Kings, San Francisco 49ers, and performers such as Sofia Carson, Los Lobos, Laura Marano, Krewella, and Grace Potter.
CalHOPE and its many groups throughout California are happy and honored to do this work and to ensure many Californians that they are not alone, there is someone here that is ready to help you or lend an ear.
For more information on how you can utilize our services, visit us at www.CalHOPE.org
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