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Teen Lifeline seeing increase in calls in Arizona during virus pandemic

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PHOENIX — Among the most vulnerable are young people with mental health challenges. Before the pandemic, rates of mental illness had been steadily increasing. As the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, service requests for help with mental health have steadily increased in Arizona.

Despite calls for help typically tricking down during summer months, this year was much different.

Teen Lifeline reports a 6% increase in calls and texts in the month of June.

“We can definitely connect that back to the stress and anxiety related to having to stay at home,” Nikki Kontz, Teen Lifeline’s clinical director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

Dedicated to offering immediate help, the Phoenix-based nonprofit has seen an increase in all of their major helpline categories including:

    • A 3-5% increase in calls and texts related to suicide
    • 11% increase in concerns with family problems
    • Calls and texts nearly doubled regarding teens struggles with LGBTQ issues
    • Increased reports of abuse in the home

“The biggest areas, though, we see are depression and anxiety,” Kontz added. “Where they just really are struggling with that disconnection from the outside world and not feeling understood at home.”

Kontz doesn’t blame parents for teens’ feelings during the pandemic after being stuck at home for the past six months, but she believes parents should be talking to their kids about how they feel and what they want.

“They’re scared about what the future holds and right now we are seeing an increase related to anxiety about the next school year,” Kontz said.

Teen Lifeline’s hotline is available for parents as well, not just teens. The hotline is available 24/7, seven days a week. Teen peer consolers take calls from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The hotline number is 602-248-8336. Texting is available at the same number every day from noon to 9 p.m. every day.

Hours have been extended on the hotline and texting until all students are said to be back in school throughout Arizona.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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