By Davena Jones
Last week I rode the bus to Pleasant Hill Bart and then grabbed an Uber to the Conference office in Concord. The Uber driver, at first, was a little cold in his response to my hello and good morning. My first thought was rude, and you will not get a tip from me. After a few silent moments., the driver began to speak about how tricky business has been lately. He shared how he only earned $30.00 for driving someone to San Francisco from the East Bay. He said, “how am I to feed my family off $30.00?” He then opened up deeper and said: “you know there are times when I am driving ‘alone’ that I just want to let the wheel go and allow my car to smash into a wall and just die.” I began to pray, seeking God to give me a word of encouragement to share with this man. I asked him to tell me more about his children. Afterward, I said, “sir, they need you in all the ways you can be present in their lives. Don’t you give up on you nor them?” He told me that he would remember that, followed by thank you for listening and may God bless you, and I said and may God bless you also.
There is a young lady who also thought her life was not worth living as well. And on Christmas Eve, while driving, she did let go of the steering wheel of her car… to God be praised, there was a roadblock, and her car turned around. I should mention this was going on while her beloved mother and loved ones were on the cell phone with her. They heard her sing “everything to God in prayer” then, loud noises, gravel from the tires and followed by her cell phone going dead, there was nothing but silence. For two hours, her family did not know if she was dead or alive. Then, finally, the phone rang, it was the hospital, she’s alive, banged up, but still here. Good news for her family, terrible news for the survivor. And she struggles even today with “I am still alive” how I wish that I was not.
A Facebook post read: Praying for that young lady who was on the San Rafael bridge looking prepared to jump, that she did not jump—driving 50+ miles an hour and no ability to stop. However, I did notice a man in an orange vest standing towards her but away from her. I called 911, and after several tries, I got through. The operator shared that the call center had received several calls, and help was on the way.
These are only three stories that I am sharing here in this space. However, there are many more and even more who are suffering in silence. Times are hard with or without COVID, and a way forward seems further away and less possible to achieve. So this week’s Let’s Talk article is to speak up and out about Mental Health issues in the “Church,” yes, in our pews, online members, in our family, our neighbors, and a stranger struggle to make it daily.
According to the CDC-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, communities have faced mental health challenges related to COVID-19 associated morbidity, mortality, and mitigation activities. In addition, there were public health practice implications for providing intervention and prevention efforts to address mental health conditions. There is a call for Community-level efforts, including health communication strategies prioritizing young adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers.
During June 24-30, 2020, U.S. adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use and elevated suicidal ideation. 
One of the resources that I selected to highlight is The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH). Administered by the National VOAD member organization Vibrant Emotional Health and is funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The national Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) provides confidential, multilingual crisis counseling and support for anyone in the U.S./territories experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters, including COVID-19. Call or text 1-800-985-5990 to reach a trained counselor 24/7/365.
The DDH also offers Strength After, the first storytelling site of its kind. The purpose of “Strength After” is to provide a centralized hub to share stories of hope and recovery from disaster survivors, responders, loved ones, and caregivers from across the country regardless of whether their experiences happened five decades ago or five days ago. For more information on DDH services, to request printed materials for distribution in your staff offices or field-based operations, or any other question or collaboration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
 (Czeisler MÉ, Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — the United States, June 24–30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1049–1057. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6932a1externa n.d.)