Illinois officials take steps to address mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has entered its third month and it has begun to take a toll on society, in the form of stress from different factors, such as pattern changes, isolation and loneliness.

According to Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, the state has seen a rise in domestic violence cases and other similar issues following Governor JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, which was recently extended to the end of May.

Others, such as Mavic Madrangca, a nurse at Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, have only had more stress added. While being a nurse can already be a stressful job, it became a nightmare when her floor became a COVID-19 unit.

More was added to her job, as the nurses took on multiple positions in order to have minimal contact with the least amount of people as possible, such as cleaner, the certified nurse assistant and the respiratory therapist.

The job continued to worsen as Madrangca had to face the reality that people were dying from the virus and were dying alone.

“Normally, when the patient is dying, there is a lot of family members, you know, to be with them,” Madrangca said. “But this time, they die alone, which is, the saddest part of this whole thing.”

Illinois officials have taken steps in order to combat mental health related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Call4Calm, which is a service that allows the users to message “TALK” or “HABLAR” to 552020, in order to speak to a mental health expert and get help. The service only requires a zip code and your first name.

While the main purpose of Call4Calm is to offer mental health services to those in need, it can also be used to get help on other COVID-19 related issues, such as unemployment and shelter.

The state will also be looking to see how it will implement mental health services into the budget negotiations for next year.

In the meantime, Lt. Governor Stratton stresses honest conversations with children and loved ones about the pandemic, in order to express their feelings and get all of this behind us.

Jose Zepeda

Jose Zepeda is a senior at the University of Illinois majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. He is now on his third year with Good Morning Illini, previously serving as director, reporter and crew member. He is also currently a digital intern for WILL, the NPR- and PBS- affiliate in Urbana and vice-president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists University of Illinois chapter. He also has his own podcast with fellow GMI-er Angelle Cortes called Just Chillin’. He brings previous experience as a features intern at The News-Gazette and as a daytime news editor at The Daily Illini. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JoseZepedaTV.