BOISE, Idaho — For many of those struggling with mental illness or addiction, support groups are an important part of recovery, but now, officials are encouraging everyone to avoid groups of people larger than ten and practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
That's why local support groups like the Treasure Valley Mental Health Support Group are evolving, in order to continue providing the support its members need.
The group has been meeting in person every Monday for nearly 15 years. For longtime member and group facilitator Rob Croft, having a support system has been essential for his mental health.
"I know a lot of people who, this group has really saved their life--including me," Croft said.
With COVID-19 concerns, the group's numbers are smaller, but soon they may be forced to stop meeting in person at all, but that's not going to stop them from giving support to those who need it.
"Now we're at that point where we have to actually consider, 'What is our contingency plan?'" said Amber Hezeltine, a group facilitator. "We do have a private Facebook group, we have a community page and there's a group page that allows for more private discussion."
That's not the only way the group is working to go digital.
"We're going to be doing a live feed, kind of like a party feed, where we're going to be doing our group online," Croft said.
Croft says support groups like this one are vital, especially during a time like this when isolation is a factor.
"People that have depression, isolating can be extremely dangerous," Croft said. "I know that's one of the things they're talking about doing, but for people with depression, it can be life-threatening."
That's why longtime member Sarah Ray says it's important for the group to be there for each other, even if they can't do so physically.
"I think people are really conflicted right now with how to deal with their emotions with the isolation factor, and how to interact with their community," Ray said. "I think these provide really safe spaces for people to interact and to share their emotions."
If you're in need of support, you can always reach out to the group on their Facebook page.
If you, or someone you know is struggling, please don't hesitate to reach out for help. Here's a full list of mental health and addiction resources:
Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Phone: (208) 398-4357
Veteran's Crisis Line:
Phone: 1 (800) 273-8255 (PRESS 1), or you can text: 838255 to get help from professionals, 24/7.
St. Luke's Psychiatric Wellness Clinic:
211 Idaho Careline:
Phone: Dial 211 or 1-800-926-2588
Code 4 Northwest:
Phone: (888) 659-7510
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare:
Phone lists: https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/ContactUs.aspx