JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – When we think of heroes, we typically think of Marvel characters and their superpowers. But sometimes a hero is just someone who listens and gives a shoulder to cry on. Executive Director of Contact the Crisis line, Brenda Patterson, does just that. She is this week’s Hometown Hero.
The Mississippi Department of Health said there was a 40% increase in lifeline calls in 2020. Patterson said the calls increased steadily as the year went on.
“It was a steady incline and increase in the number of calls,” said Patterson, “What we really noticed was the length of calls. They were just a lot longer.”
Patterson said the pandemic has affected people’s mental health.
“They basically call the help line number and present the difficulty they are facing,” said Patterson, “We just process and walk them through with that. Some people are very lonesome and just need someone who will listen.”
An employee for the Department of Mental Health nominated Patterson for how she led the organization through the pandemic.
“The dynamics did change,” said Patterson, “Some of our senior volunteers did not feel as comfortable coming into the phone room. But that was offset by a number of interns that we gained because a number of internship placement opportunities were no longer available.”
Patterson said it was important to keep the organization running now more than ever.
Contact the Crisis line employee, Amelia Hayes, said Patterson is a great leader.
“We have a really good relationship and we collaborate well,” said Hayes.
Patterson said she is humbled that she was nominated.
“It is really nice to see people be empowered and be able to take their next step,” said Patterson.
She said her favorite thing is teaching volunteers how to effectively speak to those who need help. And is happy making sure they never feel alone.
Patterson said she could not have the organization running without her staff and volunteers. If you or someone you know needs to call the help line. The phone number is 601-713-HELP.
If you know someone who goes above and beyond in the community send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org just put “Hometown Heroes” in the subject line.