BAYAMON – Following the approval of $ 3,214,047 in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “Crisis Counseling Program”, the administrator of the Addiction and Mental Health Services Administration (ASSMCA) ), Suzanne Roig Fuertes, announced the creation of the CONÉCTATE Crisis Counseling program.
The purpose of the program is to strengthen crisis counseling services for survivors of events related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to expanding the counseling services provided by the PAS Line through phone calls, Microsoft Teams, ZOOM and other programs. virtual adapted to the new reality, was reported this Sunday.
“Certainly, the events that we have experienced in the past years, since Hurricanes Irma and María, the earthquakes that began in December 2019 and now with the emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the emotional health of all Puerto Ricans is it has been affected, ”Roig Fuertes said in written statements.
The administrator added that “the COVID-19 emergency involves many factors in addition to the concern that we may experience due to the fear of contagion of the disease, such as social isolation, extreme alteration to lifestyle and decrease in income. at home, among others. This definitely increases emotional stress, in some instances exacerbating violent behavior and a deterioration in people’s mental health ”.
During the months of March and April 2020, the ASSCMA PAS Line received approximately 13,000 calls directly related to COVID-19. The symptoms mostly reported by citizens included fear, frustration, anger, depression and other emotions related to a sense of helplessness in the situation. These trends in the request for emotional attention have continued to the present.
The CONÉCTATE Crisis Counseling program will have a total of 248 crisis counselors distributed by teams throughout the areas most affected by COVID-19 in the 78 municipalities of the Island. They will provide direct service to the communities by taking distance measures. necessary physical and, as warranted, through teleconsultation.
Likewise, a team of 16 counselors will be established for the PAS Line, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to attend to specific cases that are related to COVID-19. This initiative will not only strengthen ASSMCA’s team of first response professionals in crisis situations, but will also allow the acquisition of electronic equipment to adapt interventions to the new reality of citizens and comply with the rules of physical distancing.
“CONÉCTATE will serve the entire Puerto Rican population that requires it, including adults, older adults in the communities and, in addition, it will have specialized personnel to deal with crisis situations of children and adolescents. Undoubtedly, through this project, ASSMCA will have an extremely active role with great community impact and on the mental and emotional health of the Puerto Rican people, ”the official explained.
Finally, the ASSMCA administrator reminded citizens that the Agency has the PAS Line 1-800-981-0023, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, free of charge. Also, a new mobile application from Google Play and Apple Store in which you can access in an immediate, safe and easy way to chat live with professionals of the PAS Line and expose their particular situations to receive emotional help.