Wisconsin agencies create mental health program for struggling residents

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ROCK COUNTY, Wis. (WTVO) — While we are able to do things like go to restaurants, museums, zoos, and other attractions, the COVID-19 pandemic is still wearing on a lot of people’s mental health.

That’s why several Wisconsin agencies have come together to offer a helping hand–or ear to anyone that needs it. We spent the day learning about the program that is just a quick call away.

“COVID has affected everyone. I mean, you, me, everybody is affected by it in one way or another,” explained Barbara Candellaria, the crisis counselor team leader.

As mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic linger, assistance for Wisconsin residents is just a phone call away.

“The isolation that people have felt because of the quarantine, and not being able to go out to stores, and you know just not having that human contact is huge,” said Jane Gaffney, the project director for Project Recovery.

State health officials have collaborated with FEMA, WISCAP, and local community action agencies to create Project Recovery, an emotional support program.

“I’ve seen a lot of people with anxiety and confusion,” Candellaria said.

Barbara Candellaria is a crisis counselor with Project Recovery. Her role allows her to provide Wisconsin residents with resources to get through mental health, financial and health issues resulting form the global health crisis.

“We’re just here to help them with referrals if they need them, but most importantly just to listen to them,” she said. “If you can tell someone how you’re feeling, that just in itself can take a huge load off your shoulders. It makes you feel better to be able to just express it and it’s out there.”

Counselors can be contacted by dialing 211. The grant funded program is set to run through the end of the year. Organizers hope to offer in-person assistance when it is safe.

“Those phone calls are very valuable, and very effective. And like I said in the future, hopefully we’ll be able to do more one-on-one contacts,” Gaffney added.

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