Stars and Stripes: Report: Veterans Crisis Line ‘remarkably successful’ at handling increase in calls at start of pandemic

“The coronavirus pandemic prompted an increase in calls to the national crisis hotline for veterans, but not enough to overwhelm call centers, an independent watchdog agency reported Wednesday.”

“Calls to the Veterans Crisis Line hit a high point in March as the coronavirus pandemic altered everyday life in the U.S. Despite the increase in calls and a shift to teleworking, responders met all their performance standards, including the answering of all calls within three rings, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.”

“In a report issued Wednesday, the OIG described the hotline’s response to the pandemic as ‘remarkably successful.’”

“’The OIG was impressed with [Veterans Crisis Line] leaders’ and employees’ efforts to … ensure that the [hotline] met its mission to provide immediate access to crisis intervention services during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ the watchdog office wrote.”

“The onset of the pandemic led many Americans to experience social isolation, fear, anxiety, unemployment and financial strain. Some mental health experts and veterans’ advocates worried about the effects among military members and veterans, who already experience disproportionate rates of suicide. They speculated that the Veterans Crisis Line could see a surge in call volume…”

“While the Veterans Crisis Line returned to pre-pandemic call levels by the end of May, it remains unclear exactly how the pandemic has affected veterans’ mental health.”

“Experts continue to speculate the ongoing pandemic is worsening mental health problems across the country. Earlier this month, Gen. James C. McConville, the Army’s chief of staff, said the pandemic was taking a toll on the mental health of soldiers and could be a factor in this year’s increase in suicides in the service…” Read the full report here.

Source: Report: Veterans Crisis Line ‘remarkably successful’ at handling increase in calls at start of pandemic – By Nikki Wentling, October 28, 2020. Stars and Stripes.

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