Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, people with developmental disabilities have historically been disproportionately impacted by mental health issues compared to those without disabilities.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 17.4 million adults with disabilities experience frequent mental health distress, such as anxiety and depression, about 4.6 times as often as adults without disabilities. Today, that number is rapidly increasing for this population because of pandemic-related impacts, such as isolation and lack of community engagement and social interaction, while availability for in-person mental health services has not kept up with demand.
In response, The Arc of California partnered with Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare to launch Project Connect, a FREE 24-hour support line for people with disabilities, their caregivers, family members and support team.
“Going into the pandemic, we were aware that people with disabilities would be experiencing greater levels of stress, fear and depression; and coupled with a well-documented provider shortage for mental health services, we felt the need to develop an open line of communication for our community as a safety net during this challenging time,” said Jordan Lindsey, Executive Director, The Arc of California.
“As the holidays rapidly approach and the Country is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that Project Connect will make mental health support more accessible for anyone who needs assistance.”
The Project Connect telehealth support line is staffed by graduate students in the Stony Brook School of Social Welfare and supervised by licensed social workers. The graduate students offer a wide range of support services including counseling, wellness checks, depression screening, and referrals to community services.