LINCOLN COUNTY — Spring has most definitely sprung. And although the sunshine extends a little longer with each passing day, and a light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel appears brighter as the calendar inches toward summer, the past year brought extreme mental stress to many locals.

The uncertainty of the pandemic, the long, rainy and dark winter months, September wildfires and more have placed often overwhelming and unprecedented stress on the mental health of more than a few Lincoln County residents.

The current times can prove even more difficult to navigate for area youths. With the pandemic still limiting in-person academic, social and athletic opportunities for school-aged children, oftentimes kids are unaware of where to turn to seek assistance navigating day-to-day situations.

“There has been an increase in mental health crises nationwide due to the impacts of COVID-19,” Susan Trachsel, Lincoln County Health and Human Services, wrote in an email to the News-Times. “The calls to crisis and suicide hotlines are up as are enrollments in mental health services and treatment programs. This is a national trend that is echoed here on a local level too.”

With that in mind, the News-Times wants readers to be aware of the abundance of resources available locally and statewide to those who may be experiencing mental health difficulties, or those who know someone who might be struggling.

One of the best local resources for those of all ages is the Lincoln County Community Outreach and Recovery Education program known as CORE.

“CORE is a great low barrier resource for short-term mental health support,” Trachsel wrote. “We continue to be open and supportive of our local community’s mental health needs.”

CORE is a response team available to help people with failing mental health and serving the unique challenges brought on by the pandemic and the late-summer wildfires. Lincoln Community Health Center established the CORE program this past December with the help of a Federal Emergency Management agency grant.

The five-person CORE team, composed of behavioral health resource specialists, aims to promote community members’ ability to recover and properly heal from having experienced difficult times. CORE’s free services are there to aid those who might feel overwhelmed and are unsure of how to cope in a healthful manner.

Anyone experiencing fear, loneliness, loss, grief or other uncomfortable feelings, and who just need a non-judgmental person to speak with, CORE can help.

To contact CORE, call 541-265-0403 and leave a voice message that will be returned no later than one business day. People seeking help can also send an email with “CORE” in the subject line to lincolncocallcenter@co.lincoln.or.us.

Those in need of immediate assistance and who think they might be experiencing a mental health crisis are urged to call the 24/7 Crisis and Information Hotline at 1-866-266-0288. In any emergency situation, mental heath or otherwise, call 911 immediately.

English and Spanish instructions on how to participate in a weekly workshop focused on healthful coping strategies are found at tinyurl.com/se7nn4cd.

For older adolescents and young adults experiencing the onset of a psychotic disorder, the county offers its Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) program.

“The goal of the (EASA) program is to minimize the potential long-term impact of the disorder while providing skills training, case management, treatment and low-dose prescribing. A strong emphasis is placed on attaining education and employment goals, and providing education and support to family members,” reads the county’s website.

Without an income or insurance requirement, EASA offers counseling, family support, free consultations, outreach and education, academic and vocational support and more. Service locations include the Lincoln County Child and Family Program at 36 SW Nye St. in Newport and at 4422 NE Devils Lake Blvd. in Lincoln City.

To learn more about the Early Assessment and Support Alliance, go to tinyurl.com/yu8n7nhf, or contact Sena Benson-Arb at 541-265-4179, ext. 0541.

Even more county resources specific to mental health, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and developmental disabilities are available by calling 541-265-4194 in Newport.

For crisis/triage information, call 1-866-266-0288, or to contact a crisis services operator after business hours, call 1-888-232-7192. After-hours calls are triaged by operators in Portland, then, if necessary, forwarded to on-call Lincoln County Health and Human Services staff.

To be screened for mental health, substance-use disorder or problem-gambling services call 541-265-4179. Go to tinyurl.com/ywfpjdrs for information from Lincoln County Health and Human Services and available resources, visit its website at tinyurl.com/ywfpjdrs.

To learn about School-Based Health Centers for youths, go to tinyurl.com/8xy9sh9c.

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