The Iowa State University Extension Concern Line has had no shortage of issues to address with its free service.
Coordinator Tammy Jacobs says things have stayed busy since the spring of 2019 flooding in western Iowa. “We’ve seen a lot of calls from people who have been impacted by the different disasters, either the pandemic or the natural disasters with the storms,” she says.
The number of callers each month varies from 500 to 1,000. Jacobs says they can help callers with a variety of resources. “Got them connected with the outreach counselors, hooked them up with ongoing longer-term mental health resources. But then we’ve also had those ones who, you know, might have been out of work. So we got them connected, made sure that they were all set up with unemployment, if they needed assistance with food, connected them with food pantries, as well as helped to give them education on getting signed up for the SNAP program and food stamps,” she says.
The latest issue in Iowa is avian influenza outbreaks. Jacobs says they haven’t received any calls from people who are stressed by that yet. “But within Extension, I know that there’s a lot of farm management specialists who are out in the field working with individuals who have been impacted,” Jacobs says. “So one of the things that they’re doing is providing that Iowa Concern number to let people know that we’re here to help out with them. If they’re experiencing any stress, they can call and talk to us. ”
She says they are ready to help in those cases if they decide to call. Jacobs says you don’t have to be in the midst of a major disaster to use the service, as a lot of people just need someone to talk to about ongoing stresses. “They’re struggling, and just talking about what’s going on instead of holding it in can make a big difference in how they handle their stress that they’re experiencing,” she says.
There are several ways to talk to someone. You can use the traditional phone call to 1-800-447-1985.
“We also have live chat and they can get onto that by just Googling the Iowa concern hotline. And then going to the Iowa concern website,” Jacobson says, and through that you can do a live chat with us as well for those who would rather not talk to us in person. So that would be another option. They can also email us. And we can respond back to them through email as well.”
Jacobs says one way anyone can help deal with the issues of the day is to stay informed about what is going on. “That’s one of the best ways to handle some of this stuff, make sure that the information that they’re receiving is coming from credible sources, making sure that they’re taking care of themselves getting that good sleep, that exercise, eating healthy,” according to Jacobs. “All those things can really help to decrease and help individuals manage their stress levels.”
Jacobs says they encourage everyone to do that and if you feel you need some extra help, give them a call.