Editor’s note: In the Aug. 6 print edition of the Independent the Well Line’s phone number was incorrect. The correct number has been substituted below.
WELLFLEET — “We all have to go through this pandemic, and my feeling is no one is going through it alone,” said Dale Rheault, one of the founding members of Wellfleet’s new mental health phone line.
For the past two weeks, a group of health-care professionals in Wellfleet has operated a phone line for residents to call if they are dealing with anxiety, loneliness, or any other mental health issues.
Dubbed the “Well Line” after the “well” in wellness and Wellfleet, the phone line is manned by clinical social worker Dale Rheault, pediatrician Susan Spear, who specializes in adolescent medicine, and registered nurses Dennis Cunningham, Karen Friedman, and Kristen Shantz.
The phone number is 508-514-1633. The line is staffed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After-hours messages get callbacks on the next weekday.
The service is not clinical, but instead serves as a resource for people to reach out to if they need assistance in finding professional help or they just need someone to talk to.
Wellfleet Police Chief Mike Hurley first pitched the idea of a Wellfleet mental health phone line two months ago.
“What you are seeing overall is an uptick in everybody’s stress and anxiety, mine included,” he said. “It just seems like, every day, mental health is woven into whatever we deal with.”
Hurley added that he got the idea for the line from Provincetown, which had already set up a mental health support phone number.
“We called the Provincetown group, and they already adopted Truro, so they couldn’t take on Wellfleet, too,” he said.
From there, Cunningham and Spear took Hurley’s idea and formed a team to get Wellfleet its own service.
Although the salient piece of the program is the phone line, the Well Line is three-pronged.
The service also includes a buddy system, where two callers can be paired up to check in with each other every day, week, or few weeks, depending on their needs.
“If someone is home alone, or home and lonely, and they would like to touch base with someone, they can,” Spear said.
The team also holds weekly group therapy sessions on Zoom, led by Rheault. The meetings take place every Monday from 3 to 4 p.m.
Rheault, a former clinical social worker, is the only member of the group who is qualified to lead a clinical session. She practiced her profession in Provincetown for 15 years, retiring last year.
“I missed the work, but I felt a real calling, because people were experiencing such stress with the exasperation of isolation,” she said. “I wanted to be helpful.”
Then the Well Line group asked her to join in their effort.
“I am sadly happy to be doing this,” she said.
On July 27, Rheault had her first call from an elderly resident who, along with her husband, is immunocompromised and was concerned about the risks that summer tourists bring to the community.
The former therapist spoke with the resident for most of the day and offered her resources for getting advice on safety.
“The line has been pretty quiet,” said Rheault. “But we are ready and willing to help people.”
The Provincetown Warm Line is at 508-309-5848 and operates from noon to 7 p.m. daily. Similar to Wellfleet’s, the line is manned by a group of current and retired medical professionals who are part of Provincetown’s Covid-19 Task Force. They also offer the buddy system service.