Georgia launches mental health COVID-19 assistance through $1.74 million grant | Local News

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has relaunched the Georgia Recovery Project…

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has relaunched the Georgia Recovery Project with a $1.74 million grant.

The program activates upon a presidential disaster declaration and supports mental health disaster response.

The current initiative is designed to help people whose mental health has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project aims to reach 80,000 Georgians during the lifecycle of the grant, which runs through June 15, 2021.

“This timely grant will help DBHDD provide-much needed support to the thousands of Georgians who are struggling to adjust to co-existence with COVID-19,” said DBHDD Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald. 

Target populations include older adults, especially those in nursing homes; health care workers; schools and universities; people with behavioral health challenges or intellectual and developmental disabilities; public safety workers; military personnel and veterans; and farmers.

However, the Georgia Recovery Project is available to help any Georgian in need.

“Our work is based on the idea of resiliency – helping people identify their strengths as well as coping skills that will enable them to adjust to change,” said Jeannette David, DBHDD’s disaster mental health coordinator. “We help people put their feelings into perspective and understand that these are common reactions to an uncommon situation.”

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, assistance will be primarily implemented through two vehicles: regional crisis counseling teams and the Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line.

Each of DBHDD’s six regions has a crisis counseling team comprised of two or three crisis counselors and one crisis community liaison. Crisis counselors provide psychoeducation, assessments, nonintensive support with referrals if needed, and links to other community resources to help people cope with their circumstances.

Floyd and 30 other counties in North Georgia are in Region 1, headquartered in Cumming. The main number there is 678-947-2818.

The toll-free Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line is 866-399-8938.

The confidential hotline was initially staffed by volunteers through the department’s Office of Adult Mental Health but is now part of the Georgia Recovery Project and run by professional staff. It’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Fitzgerald said Georgians are encouraged to use the line any time they are feeling stress or anxiety associated with the pandemic. Callers need not have contracted COVID-19 or know someone who has. 

Individuals who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis should contact the Georgia Crisis and Access Line for free and confidential help 24/7 at 800-715-4225 or via the MyGCAL app available in the App Store and Google Play.

The Georgia Recovery Project is funded by a Crisis Counseling Program grant awarded jointly by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.