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Have you been curious about who the Southcoast helpers are? Check out Wellness Wednesdays.

Help & Hope Southcoast was founded on the idea that we all need help sometimes and that getting it is as simple as reaching for it.

Our goals are big - we’d like to strengthen mental health throughout the Southcoast - and also small - we’d be happy if our work introduces you to the many amazing people in the region who get up every day determined to make a difference in other people’s lives.

And wow, there could not have been a better time to tackle issues around mental health and help connect people with the resources and organizations that can support them.

COVID-19 didn’t create the troubling state of mental health in this country, but it did aggravate it. Self-reported rates of mental health challenges have been skyrocketing and more people report having feelings of anxiety and depression.

Help & Hope wants to reverse these trends by connecting people to the local service providers who can help. We do this through our Local Hero posts here on this blog as well as through our Help & Hope show, called Wellness Wednesdays, broadcast online each Wednesday evening via New Bedford Guide’s Facebook page.

Through Wellness Wednesdays, we bring a local service provider to your living room for thirty minutes so you can hear how they are coping with the COVID pandemic, what service they provide to others, and what they’ve learned that could be helpful to you.

We started the program on Aug. 26 with a conversation about how important it is to talk about suicide and how right it is to celebrate the life of someone who has taken their own life and not just focus only on the means of their death.

Since then, we’ve addressed homelessness, substance use, public health, mental illness, and isolation.

This week is a milestone for the program. We are wrapping up our 10-week series with a conversation with New Bedford shelter manager Ray Duarte tonight.

Ray runs multiple shelters in the city, managing a complex system at a time when everything is becoming more chaotic and unpredictable. It will be his job, with the support of others, to keep this system functioning through the winter for the wellbeing and safety of everyone.

It will be a great show as we talk about how the shelters will function under the threat of COVID-19.

But just because we’ve reached our tenth episode, it doesn’t mean Wellness Wednesdays are over.

Thanks to work by Rev. David Lima, Southcoast Health has agreed to fund the next stage of the show and to keep the program going.

We are grateful for their support.

In the coming days, we’ll be working on our next steps and will keep you posted on where you can find us next on this blog and on our Facebook page.

Until then, check out the show at 7 p.m. tonight here. See you there.

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