NYMC Faculty Publications

Characteristics of Calls to a COVID-19 Mental Health Hotline in the First Wave of the Pandemic in New York

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Community Mental Health Journal

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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


This report describes the development, implementation and outcomes of a "COVID-19 Anxiety Hotline," designed to address the community's mental health crisis provoked by the coronavirus pandemic. The service was specifically designed using survey data regarding the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its staff and community members. Callers had around-the-clock direct access to mental healthcare providers at no cost. Quantitative analysis showed that nearly three out of four callers experienced new onset anxiety and insomnia driven by fear of exposure, and had difficulty accessing mental health care. In addition to immediate support, referral to tele-mental health care was provided to 86% of callers. Qualitative analysis indicates the effectiveness of immediate support and appropriate referrals using a tele-health platform. Our report indicates that the service was utilized by the general population, by health care workers, and rapidly provided referrals to individuals with limited access to mental health care during the pandemic.