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Mental health, emergency shelter agencies still helping those in need

By Kendra Caruso | May 05, 2020
Source: New Hope for Women

Belfast — Maine's civil emergency and stay-at-home order have not reduced the need for mental health and social services. In fact, those needs may have grown because of the stress of the ongoing public health emergency, the leaders of such organizations say. Locally, New Hope for Women and National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine continue to assist people with housing and mental health issues despite the coronavirus epidemic.

New Hope for Women is experiencing an increase in people needing temporary housing to leave abusive situations, according to Executive Director Rebekah Paredes. While it does not have a physical shelter, it is housing more families for longer periods in hotels in the four Midcoast counties it serves, according to Paredes.

She said when the shutdown began, calls to the organization decreased, which Paredes said concerned her, because it meant victims were home with their abusers and had no way to safely call for help. But after a couple of weeks calls for help started to increase again, she said.

Since the shutdown began, the organization has provided temporary shelter in hotels for seven families in its area for several weeks' stay at a time, according to Paredes. She said normally New Hope only provides temporary shelter for a couple of families at a time for a few weeks before getting them into more permanent transitional housing.

She said New Hope has received more funding to help people who need temporary housing during the pandemic. She encourages family and friends to check on individuals who are in abusive or unsafe situations.

“If they’re concerned about somebody, reach out to them,” she said. “This is a really stressful time in itself, and if they’re concerned about a friend or relative experiencing abuse, ask them if they need anything.”

NAMI Maine Director of Community Programs Hannah Longley said the organization is still assisting people with mental health issues. She said support and peer groups are still meeting via Zoom.

The organization just released a helpline that will connect people with a volunteer clinician to help address mental health issue during social distancing.

People in need of mental health services can call NAMI Maine at 800-464-5767 and press 1 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but those experiencing a mental health crisis should call 888-568-1112.

Courts are still hearing protection from abuse cases. People needing to leave an abusive situation in Waldo County can call 800-522-3304. New Hope’s new chatline can be found at

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