Mental health hotline helps New Jersey musicians, others facing COVID challenges
USA TODAY's Ralphie Aversa reflects on how entertainment changed this past year ranging from TV anchors working from home to concerts in living rooms. USA TODAY
On the Road
“Help, I need somebody,” famously sang the late John Lennon on the 1965 Beatles hit “Help.”
It's even truer today.
The coronavirus outbreak has affected us all, and it's especially been hard on musicians in New Jersey, said Patti Maloney of the New Jersey Hope and Healing Crisis Counseling Program.
“Musicians who were always performing aren't able to take gigs anymore, they're isolated and their worrying about their family members,” Maloney said. “Musicians socialize by playing music and that's been taken away from them.”
COVID-19 closed indoor entertainment venues from March to September last year. They're presently limited to either 35 percent of a venue's capacity, or 150 people for indoor shows.
“It's not natural to feel isolated and feel like you don't know what the hell you're going through and why you're going crazy,” Maloney said.
Musicians, and non-musicians, who need help can call 866-202-HELP (4357) or texting NJHOPE to 51684 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. It's the good first step to working things out.
“Call if you need a friend to talk to, to know you're not alone,” Maloney said. “If you need a higher level of care, you'll get the resources you need. Maybe you'll meet with a professional therapist on an ongoing basis or meet with social services because you're being evicted from your house, or your out of jail with no medication and no place to live.”
The New Jersey Hope and Healing Crisis Counseling Program is provided by the Mental Health Association in New Jersey.
Maloney can relate to the plight of musicians. She's one herself and chances are you've seen or heard her. She's performed with Cats on a Smooth Surface, Holme, the Slaves of New Brunswick, the Shangri Las and more. She's also an ace songwriter who's worked with Bernie Williams (yes, the former Yankees centerfielder), Bernie Worrell of P-Funk, and “Dirty Dancing” co-writer John DeNicola.
Oh, she sang backup with Patti Scialfa on an early, never released version of “Dancing in the Dark” with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
Like other musicians, Maloney lost gigs at the onset of the outbreak, and she lost her manager, Gary Salzman, too.
Give a call or text if you need help. Chances are she'll pick up the phone.
“Tell them the chances are pretty good,” Maloney said. “If it's not me, it's somebody better cause I'm telling you, the counselors who work here, they're amazing. They do such great work and they're music lovers, too.”
What: New Jersey Hope and Healing Crisis Counseling Program
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day (including weekends)
Info: 866-202-HELP (4357) or text NJHOPE to 51684
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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; firstname.lastname@example.org.