By Debra Kissel, Emotional Support Line Counselor


As counselors, we are experienced in helping people navigate life’s challenges. In the past month, our skills have been applied in an entirely different setting and from a remote location. Working on the Emotional Support Line requires flexibility and adjustment to a new schedule. Our jobs are typically school-based, and we have time to develop therapeutic relationships with our clients. We are now working with people of all ages with more acute needs. The emphasis is on listening with an open and supportive mind.

The calls have been quite diverse, with a variety of people of all ages calling with a wide variety of concerns. We never know if it will be someone actively suicidal, someone in the midst of an intense relationship conflict, or someone managing a pre-existing mental illness or addiction. People are dealing with grief and loss related to the pandemic, as well as fear and anxiety as they deal with the unknown. Social distancing has exposed relationship challenges, as callers no longer have time away from volatile situations. Others are cut off from their support systems. Some of our callers are looking for specific referrals to community resources (i.e. food pantries, daycare options, etc.).


We have a fantastic team of licensed counselors who work together to meet the needs of our callers. We know we can reach out to our colleagues when we need a moment to regroup after a difficult call. We are good at supporting one another as we recognize how the pandemic has affected us all personally.

I am making sure to get enough sleep, drink enough water, and eat healthy (most of the time). I am playing with my dog, doing some spring cleanup in my gardens, reading for fun, and researching my next vacation. I have a great group of friends who make me laugh, and I stay in close contact with them. My favorite new thing is the journal I’ve started for my granddaughters, ages 3 and 18 months. Someday they will be studying the pandemic in history, and I am writing about COVID-19 and my thoughts/feelings. I have a daily mindfulness practice that includes a gratitude list.


I am so grateful to work for an organization that quickly recognized the need for an Emotional Support Talk Line. And I appreciate the generous donors who make this possible through Methodist Hospital Foundation. Our jobs are rewarding because at the end of the day we feel satisfied we have made a difference.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Reaching out for support and connection if you are struggling is especially important right now. There is no right way to feel. Calls to the Emotional Support Talk Line are free, confidential and solution-focused. Our team of counselors is ready to help seven days a week from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. No issue is too big or too small. Please reach out to us at (402) 815-8255 (TALK).