“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 4/28/20
According to new data, Montanans are scrambling for help to combat their pandemic woes in record numbers. Montana’s 211 helpline, a free-to-use, 24/7 call center resource “acts as a link to support services close to home like programs that offer rental assistance or mental health counseling. Four nonprofits across the state manage the system split between regions and some have needed to increase staff and volunteers to meet a surge in calls.” From March 17 to April 10, Montana 211 responded to 784 coronavirus-related calls and provided 1,817 referrals to resources. This uptick, says Mandy St. Aubyn of Help Center Inc. in Bozeman, is highly concentrated. “In 2008 with the recession, the impact was so gradual and spread out over years,” Aubyn told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “This is a mass increase in community need.” According to Aubyn, the Help Center’s top three needs across the southwest Montana region are access to crisis counseling, health or quarantine information, and rent or mortgage assistance. Increasingly, as the effects of the pandemic grind on, calls are less related to financial assistance and more related to mental health crises or counseling needs for precarious financial stability and health.