COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line Helps Thousands of Texans

November 23, 2021

Since it launched in March 2020, HHSC’s COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line has helped Texans gain access to mental health services during the pandemic.

“The support line has been an invaluable resource to Texans during these difficult and uncertain times,” said Sonja Gaines, deputy executive commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services. “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s mental health, and it is important that mental and behavioral health needs are served in addition to physical. Texans can easily contact the support line at any time, day or night to receive the mental health support services and resources they need.”

People can call the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line (PDF) 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free at 833-986-1919 and talk to a mental health professional.

The support line is a one-stop shop for Texans to receive information related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including direct access to local mental health and behavioral health authorities, statewide testing and vaccine information, and referrals to resources available through 2-1-1.

The support line is funded by the Mental Health Block Grant and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant. The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD operates the line, using staff who are trained in crisis counseling and can connect callers with the 39 local mental and behavioral health authorities throughout the state.

Staff also provide no-cost support groups through the Harris Center to mental health services providers, frontline workers, caregivers and others. The support line also connects callers with support groups offered by other LMHAs and LBHAs.

Since it opened on March 31, 2020, the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line has handled more than 17,000 calls from Texans in 209 of the state’s 254 counties.

Leaders at IDD-BHS and the Harris Center decided to seek grants to start the support line after quickly realizing in spring of 2020 the impact that COVID-19 would have on Texans, including on their mental health, especially among frontline public health workers and health care providers.

As the pandemic continues, the support line has evolved to get Texans resources in innovative ways. It is in the process of adding a new feature allowing people to receive mental health and referral resources via text message.

“This innovative approach illustrates how quickly the support line is adapting to how people access services,” Gaines said.

The support line is expected to continue through January 2022, and Gaines said IDD-BHS plans to provide it as long as there remains a need across Texas.

In addition to the support line, all LMHAs across the state have crisis call centers staffed 24 hours a day to respond to the mental health needs of Texans.

People can also find mental health resources at Mental Health Texas, a web-based mental health resource provided by the Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, which HHSC oversees.