Our Opinion: Turn to Help Line if anxiety, depression or other back-to-school problems arise

For all the excitement and opportunity it offers, back-to-school season also can be a real downer.

Be aware of the potential for bullying, depression, anxiety and other troubles to afflict students – from elementary school through grad school – as well as their harried parents, especially those struggling to keep up with expenses. And realize that, in Northeastern Pennsylvania, no one needs to face those problems alone.

Assistance is as close as the nearest phone, computer or online device.

Contact Help Line.

Call 2-1-1 or visit www.helpline-nepa.info. (Longtime area residents who remember Help Line’s self-promotional jingle in those post-Agnes Flood years might more readily dial 1-888-829-1341.)

Operated by the Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Help Line offers around-the-clock crisis intervention for distraught callers.

Moreover, its phone operators have access to a lengthy directory of the region’s social service and health programs. They can guide callers to, for instance, a local counseling program (individual, family, marital, bereavement or pregnancy), parenting classes, places to get hearing tests and emergency shelters.

In need of baby clothing? Dental care? Food? Help Line’s workers strive to connect individuals with the agencies that can supply the required items or support.

Let’s not be naive; area classrooms soon might be filled with young students tasked with learning, but many of those individuals simultaneously will be coping with serious, out-of-class situations: homelessness, physical abuse, drug addictions (theirs or a parent’s) or self-imposed pressure to succeed.

Three digits – 2-1-1 – might begin to soothe those worried minds.

Keep the number handy. If you, or someone you know, needs help, make the call.