Need Help? You’re Not Alone. Here’s How to Get It.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re all adjusting to life as it’s never been before — and for many of us, that means needing help we’ve never needed before. Help is out there, but it can feel overwhelming reaching out for the first time. To help us all take those first baby steps, we’ve put together a list of some common struggles facing our community right now and good places to start. I’ve found that just having a starting place and a push in the right direction can be really encouraging.

I’m sure there are more resources out there — so please, comment here and on Facebook with the ones you’re familiar with!

How to Get Help Amidst COVID-19 in the West Suburbs: Depression, Job Loss, Financial Worry, and More

I’m struggling with anxiety, depression, or stress.

First things first: If you’re in distress, call the suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the Lifeline chat. It’s free and confidential.

Illinois just debuted the Call4Calm free mental health hotline. Text TALK to 552020 (or HABLAR for Spanish) to get a call back from a mental health professional. You can also text UNEMPLOYMENT, FOOD, or SHELTER if for info on those services.

To touch base with a member of Pillars Community Health’s Behavioral Health Team for general support amid the coronavirus outbreak, call 708-995-3898 anytime Monday-Friday, 9 am-7 pm. Typical discussions might be: I can’t focus/sleep because of the uncertainty; I’m feeling anxious; I feel like I need to talk to someone; I don’t know how I can support my child through shelter at home; etc.

A local counselor put together a list of strategies for coping when you’re losing it for us. These strategies are really helpful for the extra stress we’re all feeling right now.

If you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed or think you may need extra help, here’s a baby-steps checklist, courtesy of my own experiences with depression:

  1. Write down what you are feeling: emotions, physical symptoms, anything. Write it on paper or in a note on your phone.
  2. Tell someone. Here’s a couple example texts you might send: “I’m feeling really overwhelmed right now. Trying to think of next steps.” “I’m having a hard time. I think I need to check in with a counselor.” Now copy and paste that message to someone else.
  3. Reach out for help. This part can be hard — you can definitely ask for help asking for help! Contact your doctor’s office for a referral to a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. You’ll be able to get in touch for a telehealth appointment. There are also online options like BetterHelp — I don’t have experience with these, but they do make it very easy to get help.

I need to get out of an unsafe home situation.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a huge surge in domestic violence. But the stay-at-home order does not mean you need to stay in an abusive situation. Here’s how to get help:

  • Domestic Violence Helpline (free, confidential, multi-lingual, and 24-hour): 1-877-TO END DV or 1-877-863-6338 (voice call)
  • 1-877-863-6339 (TTY for the deaf and hearing-impaired)
  • Pillars Community Health 24-hour domestic violence hotline: 708-485-5254
  • Pillars Community Health 24-hour sexual assault hotline: 708-482-9600
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If someone you love is hurting you, please know it’s not your fault. It can happen to anyone. You deserve help.

Photo courtesy of Pillars Community Health: the domestic violence team ready to answer calls during the coronavirus pandemic

I need help finding housing, paying bills, getting insurance, or applying for unemployment.

Your local library is a great resource for steering you towards local information! I got in touch with my friend Joy Matteson, a librarian at Downers Grove Public Library, to hear more about how libraries are helping the public at this time. She told me the staff at her library is compiling resources to help out. You can call, email, or chat your local library to find even more local resources, but here are a few of the top resources Joy gave me:

I’m a healthcare worker and need short-term housing.

Airbnb’s hosts are offering free and reduced-price stays for frontline responders, including extra cleaning before and after. Find more information here.

I need help with my utility bills.

We checked in with our site sponsor Corsalus Financial for some solid financial advice here. Here’s the advice they gave us to share:

Many utility companies, mortgage services, and bank lenders have offered a suspension on payments and will waive late fees for delayed payments for the next coming months. While this may come as a relief to many people affected by furloughs and layoffs, the deferred payments will be later tacked on to your total bills and will still be due for payment down the line. 

Call your mortgage lenders and utility services for more information about your specific options on setting up a DPA (Deferred Payment Agreement). 

Here is an article on how to set up a Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA) in Illinois: https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/node/54301

Resources for Illinois Residents and Licensees Impacted by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):  https://www.idfpr.com/COVID-19.asp and https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/coronavirus-collateral-damage-what-do-you-do-when-paycheck-stops-ncna1163671

ComEd deferred payments: https://www.comed.com/MyAccount/MyBillUsage/Pages/PaymentArrangements.aspx

Cook County resources:  https://www.cookcountypublichealth.org/communicable-diseases/covid-19/

DuPage County resources:  https://www.dupagehealth.org/590/Coronavirus-Disease-2019-COVID-19-Inform

Jason Dobrzynski and Maralynn Kearney are Financial Advisors offering securities and investment products and services through Waddell & Reed, Inc. (WRI), member FINRA/SIPC. Corsalus Financial is a separate entity from WRI.

Waddell & Reed, Inc. is not affiliated with Kidlist or with any of the organizations referenced or their URLs (links) and makes no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. When you access these sites, you are assuming total responsibility and risk for your use of the sites.  (04/20)

I’m concerned about my retirement savings.

We turned to the experts again for this one. Here’s the insights we got from Corsalus Financial:

If you have been following the financial news, or noticed your 401(k) or IRA balances lately, you are aware that the financial markets have dropped. With the current state of our economy, we encourage you to look at the long-term horizon as opposed to the recent market volatility, especially with your longer-term investments like your retirement savings. We know the economy has been through similar types of downturns in the past, and has recovered again. 

For example, let’s look at the 2008 housing crash. Between late 2007 and early 2009, the S&P index lost almost 50% of its value. If you had a portfolio of $100,000 at the time and it was invested completely in stocks in the S&P market, perhaps your account might have been worth about $50,000 by the low-point in the market. Back then, if you were an investor, you might have a felt a bit like you do now. But, by being patient and holding steady, we now know that the S&P 500 surpassed the 2007 high level once again in March, 2013. It took four years between the 2009 lowpoint and the full recovery, but the market did recover, and actually did quite well for another six years after that! 

The purpose of this illustration is to show that the financial markets have ups and downs, and have always eventually recovered and continued to grow. Assuming that you are patient and that you do not intend to use this investment until retirement, which given that you follow Kidlist is probably quite a few years away, you don’t necessarily need to worry about the value of your account at one point in time. We tell our clients that the only values that really matter are the values on the day you invest, and your values on the day you take the money out of the market. Every day in between is just noise! Making any major changes and selling shares when the market is dropping can mean locking in losses, thus hampering a portfolio’s ability to recover.

That being said, however, we do believe in diversification of asset classes to help guard against large losses. The S&P 500 index only follows one asset class: very large US-based companies. We believe that having your investments include companies of various sizes, geographic locations, and sectors of industry — as well as some fixed income investments such as corporate and government bonds — helps manage risk during these storms. Remember that diversification is an investment strategy that can help manage risk within your portfolio but it does not guarantee profits or protect against loss in declining markets.

So, with an eye towards long-term needs, unless your financial income or needs have recently changed, we feel that now is the time to be patient and persevere with your eye to your end goal.

At Corsalus Financial, we are still working with our clients as usual, although the current circumstances for meetings have changed. We are offering phone calls, video calls, and screen sharing on our wealth management systems to make sure we are available to address any needs you might have. We would welcome an opportunity to meet with you via phone or video chat to discuss any specific concerns or to assist you in starting a financial plan for your family. Please look out for our upcoming article on Kidlist regarding Financial Strategies in a Time of Uncertainty with more information about how to handle a furlough situation, what priorities you might consider for your stimulus check and how to update your financial plan.

The S&P 500 Index is unmanaged and cannot be directly invested into. 

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal.

This article is not investment or financial advice or a specific recommendation of any kind. Opinions and forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, which change over time. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated. Please consult your financial advisor before making financial decisions.

Jason Dobrzynski and Maralynn Kearney are Financial Advisors offering securities and investment products and services through Waddell & Reed, Inc. (WRI), member FINRA/SIPC. Corsalus Financial is a separate entity from WRI.

Waddell & Reed, Inc. is not affiliated with Kidlist.  (04/20)

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I need food to help make ends meet.

In addition to food pantry options below, you can also fill out a SNAP application to access those benefits.

Local Food Pantries in the Chicagoland Area

Different food pantries have different guidelines about who can participate. Some require basic information about your family’s financial situation; others are walk-in. Most will ask you for a photo ID and a document with your name and address (like a utility bill). Check the websites to see hours and what you should bring.

Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry
1110 Jericho Road
Aurora, IL
(630) 897-2127

Downers Grove Area FISH Food Pantry
4340 Prince St
Downers Grove, IL
(630) 964-7776

West Suburban Community Pantry
6809 Hobson Valley Dr
Woodridge, IL
(630) 512-9921

Christian Worship Center Church
1330 63rd Street
Downers Grove, IL
(630) 417-2000

Loaves & Fishes Community Services – Naperville Location
1871 High Grove Lane
Naperville, IL 60540
Serves residents of Naperville and DuPage County.

Loaves & Fishes – The Compass Church Bolingbrook Satellite
151 E. Briarcliff Road
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Serves residents with zip codes 60440, 60490, and 60446.

Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry

West Pantry
834 N. Highland Avenue
Aurora, IL

East Pantry at East Aurora High School
801 Zeigler Avenue
Aurora, IL
Door #33

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Peoples Resource Center

201 S. Naperville Road
Wheaton, IL 60187

104 Chestnut Avenue
Westmont, IL
(630) 682-5402

Open to all DuPage County residents; households can receive food twice a month.

Relief Coalition
843 North Highland Avenue
Aurora, IL
Fill out the form and schedule a free box for pickup. See their website for information on pet food relief, too.

Westchester Community Pantry
Westchester Village Hall
10300 Roosevelt Road
Westchester, IL 60154
Drive-through service available; see website for details.

Photo courtesy of Relief Coalition and @mat_astacio

Check out our COVID-19 shelter-in-place resource page to keep pace with local resources, updates, and ideas for life with kids during this time. We’re in this together!

About the Author

Rachel Matuch
Rachel is a mom to two boys (ages 2 and 4) who "certainly has her hands full," as strangers in grocery stores tell her. She's doing her best to keep up and get comfortable with the mud pies and tree-climbing her kids love. In addition to writing and editing, Rachel frequently pillages the Naperville library, plays nerdy board games with her husband, and collapses into a tired heap at 8:30 p.m.

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