Pandemic stressing you out? JBSA Support Line available to help lessen COVID woes

  • Published
  • By Lori A. Bultman
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Are you struggling with telework, unemployment, homeschooling or a lack of daycare? Do you have bouts of anxiety, fear or stress?

The Joint Base San Antonio Behavioral Health COVID-19 Support Line has personnel available to listen and provide guidance on how to cope with the multitude of issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the persisting stay-at-home orders.  

The Behavioral Health COVID-19 Support Line can be reached from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 210-539-9567 or 210-539-9565. The call will be confidential unless referral to emergency services is required.

“You may have children at home 24/7 and family members working from home. Maybe there are financial concerns or a loss of employment. There might also be concern over the health of your family and yourself, or maybe it’s just plain boredom,” said Dr. Adriana L. Gutierrez, a forensic and clinical psychologist at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Any of these situations can lead to overwhelming stress and anxiety, and while it may be easy to recognize the signs in others, it can often be difficult to recognize them in yourself, Gutierrez said. 

“Signs of stress or anxiety might include loss of sleep; being easily frustrated or angered; being tearful; having feelings of panic; feeling overly tired; drinking more than usual; arguing with loved ones; having a loss of interest in activities; boredom; oversleeping, pacing or overeating; not wanting to go to work; having physical tension in the shoulders, neck, back and other parts of the body; headaches; or gastrointestinal issues,” she said. 

While anyone can suffer some or all of the signs, medical providers and first responders are at particular risk for high levels of stress, Gutierrez said. 

“They face workload demands, concern for family members, and have a fear of contracting the virus and infecting their loved ones,” she said. “They are treating patients and constantly risking disease transmission.”

That is why the support line was established, to help those struggling during trying times. 

“The support line is available to help anyone who might need assistance dealing with their situation, and calls to the center are not considered medical encounters, so no documentation kept on the calls received,” Gutierrez said. 

The line is open to military personnel, Department of Defense civilian employees, family members, DOD contractors, and all other beneficiaries.

“When you call, you will be asked very minimal personal information – just your name and contact phone number, in case you get disconnected, or in case an emergency arises,” Gutierrez said. “During the call, you will be approached in a nonjudgmental manner and will be provided brief, behaviorally based stress management techniques, coping skills, problem-solving approaches and information on resources, including smartphone applications. You might also receive information on financial, legal or other resources if needed.” 

In some cases, callers may be referred for formal behavioral health services, if it is warranted, Gutierrez said. 

“This support line is a non-medical response to support the military community due to the uncertainty and stress surrounding COVID-19, but it is not intended to be a crisis line,” she said. “Callers will be screened for suicidal behaviors and will be referred to appropriate agencies via BAMC Behavioral Health personnel if needed. It is also not for emergent care, nor does it replace medical counseling.”

Anyone eligible who feels they may benefit from extra support during this time; if things are feeling tense at home with the kids or your partner; if the pressures at work are getting to you; or if you are feeling bored and are maybe drinking more than usual; then Gutierrez said calling the BAMC support line would be a good idea.  

Calls will be confidential unless a referral to emergency services is required. If you are in crisis and need immediate assistance, please dial 911 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected with a professional counselor.