For many, the global pandemic has been a crisis “perfect storm” — economic struggles, fears about health and personal challenges all coming together at the same point in time, resulting in unmatched emotional and physical turbulence.
After more than 50 years of providing emotional support to Nevadans, the people at Crisis Support Services of Nevada (CSSNV, formerly known as Crisis Call Center) are well skilled in helping people deal with challenges. In the decades since the organization was founded, the technology has evolved past sole reliance on telephone calls to embrace other forms of communication, but the goal has remained the same — “providing a sympathetic ear, a caring heart and a helping hand to anyone in need.”
The CSSNV team knew they needed to be instrumental in helping Nevadans face their fears about the pandemic, and that’s how the idea for Talk It Out Tuesdays was born.
“When the pandemic shutdown hit Nevada, it felt like the sky was falling,” says CSSNV Executive Director Rachelle Pellissier. “Our job is to help people make sense out of all of this.”
Talk It Out Tuesdays, she notes, is a program that offers insights into the emotional toll of the pandemic, offering resources for people feeling overwhelmed as well as for those wanting to help. She adds that the Facebook Live event basically explains, “Here’s where we are, here’s what we can do and here’s where you can get help.”
What Are We Talking About?
This weekly event features experts talking about different issues, from being isolated at home and addressing domestic violence to COVID-19’s impact on health professionals, veterans and seniors.
Pellissier says topics and experts are chosen based on what their volunteers are hearing from callers, along with what’s trending in the news and on social media. “We want to make sure we’re addressing the community’s most pressing needs,” Pellissier says.
Pellissier says the most important message through all of this is that what we’re feeling makes perfect sense. “It’s a global pandemic that caused an economic crisis,” she says. “It’s natural to be stressed.”
The first webinar engaged 1,800 people, and that engagement has been growing steadily ever since. While CSSNV helps people across the country, Talk It Out Tuesdays has been primarily Nevada-focused, at least for the time being.
“We share it through our Facebook page, so our fans can share it to their friends and family members wherever they are,” Pellissier says.
Radio personality Connie Wray was inspired to step up to host the weekly webinar through her own experience with CSSNV.
“After losing my step-daughter Katy to suicide, I started the Business Hotline Challenge, encouraging local businesses to share the suicide prevention hotline number through their businesses,” she shares. “When I met the people who answer those calls, my heart was so full, knowing there is always someone there, no matter what crisis you may be going through. If I can be a part of helping save one life, or help one person in crisis, I know Katy will be proud.”
Mental Health Matters
Most of this comes down to the importance of mental health, and let’s face it: Our mental health is taking a beating these days.
“There is such a stigma, but all of us — every human being — has issues around mental health,” Pellissier says. “The way to alleviate that anxiety and stress is to talk about it. It’s important to reach out and get help.”
While Talk It Out Tuesdays is in response to the pandemic, CSNNV has been helping people for decades — through its hotline and in-person advocacy services. To meet demand, a text line was added a few years ago. In 2019, the organization helped more than 83,000 people across Nevada and the United States.
Pellissier says the organization’s overarching goal is to give people access to a calm voice before it becomes a full-blown crisis. “People think it’s only suicide or rape, but we’re here for everyone who needs to talk,” she says. “And everyone should feel comfortable reaching out and getting help through this traumatic time.”
You can get help by calling 800-273-8255, texting CARE to 839863 or visiting www.cssnv.org.
“During COVID, when so many Nevadans were struggling and the calls kept increasing, all I kept thinking was, ‘What if they hadn’t been there,’” Wray says. “CSSNV is a lifeline to many.”