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Illinois Gov. Pritzker launches mental health support hotline, remote patient monitoring program

"It's OK to feel. And please know that you don't have to feel it all alone"
Credit: AP
FILE - In this March 30, 2020 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at the Thompson Center in Chicago during the daily update on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP File)

CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Human Services Mental Health Division has launched a free emotional-support text line for people experiencing stress or despair related to the coronavirus pandemic.

It's not a crisis hotline, but a "source of support," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a Saturday press conference.

"We are living in a deeply unprecedented moment, and holding the emotional ramifications of that inside will only be harder on you," Pritzker said. "It's OK to feel. And please know that you don't have to feel it all alone. I want you to know that we're here to help."

To speak anonymously to a health care specialist, text "talk" to 552020 and a counselor from a local community mental health center will call you within 24 hours. For a Spanish option, text "hablar" instead.

"Let them be a listening ear for the challenges you are experiencing," Pritzker said.

You can also receive other helpful resources by texting the number with keywords such as "unemployment," "food" and "shelter."

The state is also launching a remote patient monitoring program for people who are recovering from the coronavirus at home or who are just experiencing symptoms.

Patients will receive daily virtual visits from health care workers and be sent wellness kits. The program is currently in central and southern Illinois, and Pritzker hopes to soon expand it to the entire state.

The hotline number for southern and west central Illinois is 217-545-5100.   The hotline goes live Monday.

For more information, go to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine's website.

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