Peer support group goes digital to offer help during coronavirus restrictions

Local News

“With change, comes fear, with fear Comes anxiety, with anxiety comes us, supporting people,” said Todd Noack, the Executive Director of Life Connections, a peer support group in Dewitt.

And a lot of people need that right now.

“People that normally don’t struggle with mental health and substance issues, are now struggling with that. Isolation, anxiety, loss of job,” said Noack.

Life connections used to help those people at its respite house or at its wellness center.

But with their doors closed because of the coronavirus, they had to find new ways to reach people.

One way, a support hotline that a peer support specialist will answer at all times of the day.

The other, taking their support groups virtual, with Zoom.

“A lot of people like that they still can get a hold of people to talk to,” said John Juhl, peer support specialist who leads the Zoom support groups. “As a peer support specialist, our job is to listen, not to be an instructor.”

It’s even helped them expand their reach.

“We’re getting people from Iowa, Illinois, people from Des Moines, Iowa City, Dubuque,” said Juhl. “Last week we had someone who called all the way from Connecticut.”

It’s not the set up they want.

“To not have that hug, to not have that cry on your shoulder, that is something that is missed. It’s not the same,” said Noack.

But they’ll gladly take it for now.

“It is working,” said Noack.

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