LEWISTON, Idaho – To counter the anxiety and stress caused by the COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic, Lewis-Clark State College seniors in the Social Work program are staffing an emotional support phone line to help fellow students and the Lewis-Clark Valley.
The free support line will allow LC State seniors to complete their social work internships for the final semester and their graduation requirements, while also providing emotional support to callers.
The support line, which starts Friday, March 27, will have regular hours at 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and will use the LC State Social Work office phone number of 208-792-2866.
LaChelle Rosenbaum, LC State assistant professor and director of the Social Work program (pictured above), said the support line gives those needing an outlet to talk with someone who is a trained social worker.
“They can have a phone call and a voice conversation with someone who is trained to listen, ask good quality questions, provide care, and provide some coping mechanisms that might be helpful during this time, as well as to provide referrals,” Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum said when the Center for Disease Control came out with guidelines about social distancing and other safety precautions, many area service agencies went to online only methods to handle clients, or even temporarily closed their doors. With the cutbacks, many LC State social work students working internships were affected.
Rosenbaum said LC faculty and students immediately began to discuss ideas of how the Social Work program could help the community and also allow students to get enough working hours in to complete their internships and graduate this spring.
“We wanted to provide other students and community members with the support that they needed that they are not normally getting because of social distancing,” Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum said she discussed the support line idea with key community members, including Steve Button, a retired social worker who volunteers with a few local agencies, Fayth Dickenson, Suicide Prevention of the Inland Northwest chairwoman, and Doug Steele, director of Student Counseling and Health Services at LC State.
“Everyone working together has made this random idea into a reality,” Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum said the way the support line will work is people will call in and get the office’s answering machine. The voice message will then be emailed the Social Work program email address. An individual will read the email and then assign it to a student who is working from their home. The student will then call the person who contacted the support line. Rosenbaum said those calling during working hours should receive a call back within a couple of hours. Those calling after hours can expect a call the next business day.
Rosenbaum encourages anyone who feels they need to talk to someone to call.
“Someone who is feeling lonely, sad, or overwhelmed,” Rosenbaum said. “There might even be times where I have this household full of kids and I just need another adult human to just listen to what I am going through. So anybody can call. Sometimes just to say out loud the things that are rolling through our head allows us as social workers to validate those feelings. And there’s like just a calming effect of just having said some of our concerns out loud.”
The social work students will offer hope and encouragement and are prepared to work with people from all ages, backgrounds and occupations. The students also have received training so they are prepared for the calls.
“When you can’t see people face to face, how do you access where they are at, check for emotions, support people in those emotions, and how do you assist them in caring and continuing on so when they leave the phone call they can continue to do well on their own?,” Rosenbaum said of the student trainings.
Rosenbaum also offered some hints to help those who might be struggling, such as staying off of social media for a period of time, or trying to find what has worked in the past that has helped an individual through some overwhelming feelings or better regulate emotions.
For more information on the LC State Social Work call line or program, contact Rosenbaum at either [email protected] or call her office at 208-792-2811.