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Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Recent years have passed by in a blur, and 2023 is no exception. It was a year of evolution rather than revolution for most smartwatch players, with nips, tucks, and iterative changes dominating. But despite the many cautious wins firms racked up in 2023, there was no shortage of misses either. Below, we recap some of the most significant moments, products, and news surrounding smartwatches that fell short.
Fitbit’s upgrades are downgrades
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
Remember when we said 2023 was a year of iterative changes? Usually, this spell in the release cycle cements already good devices as stellar. After the Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3, both highly regarded by us as some of the best affordable smartwatches you can buy, we expected Fitbit to push on with the Sense 2 and Versa 4. Boy, were we wrong.
While the Sense 2 gained a slimmer design, a new UI, and a continuous stress monitor, it lost Google Assistant smarts, third-party app support, and practical features that have been part of Fitbit smartwatches for ages. Do you want to change the clock face? You’ll need to use the Fitbit app now. Want to cover the screen with your palm to switch it off? You’ll have to wait for that update. These issues are even more pronounced on the Versa 4, which gains none of the Sense 2’s new fitness tracking smarts.
We expected Fitbit to push on with the Sense 2 and Versa 4. Boy, were we wrong
So why has Fitbit dropped the ball? In October 2023, we welcomed a new smartwatch maker to the segment. Fitbit-owner Google released the Pixel Watch, which launched with the promise of Fitbit health tracking. It stands to reason that the Sense 2 and Versa 4 were nerfed to make the Pixel Watch more enticing, turning the once-strong smartwatch lines into glorified fitness trackers.
What can Fitbit do in 2023? Well, the hardware is there. The Sense 2 feels decidedly more refined than any Fitbit smartwatch before it. But it needs a series of software updates to bring it up to scratch. This isn’t beyond Fitbit’s capabilities, but is it part of its plan?
Google’s first smartwatch falls short
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
Google’s first smartwatch is among the more divisive devices that launched in 2023. It has plenty of fans, and for a good reason — it has oodles of promise and polish for a first-generation product. However, the Pixel Watch fell well short of the hype Google garnered before its release.
As detailed in our review, battery life is well below par for the first few days. After setup, it barely lasts a day on a single charge. Picking when to place your watch on its cradle becomes a regular calendar event. Oddly, Google also opted to use a Samsung chipset from 2023 to power its 2023 smartwatch. You wouldn’t say this is a problem when using it — the watch provides the smoothest Wear OS experience we’ve had to date. But, for $349, you’d expect more than three-year-old silicon in your flagship device.
Samsung’s one missed step
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Samsung is not exempt from this list. Thanks to its long list of reliable smartwatches, we hold its wearables in high regard. The Galaxy Watch 5 series was yet another hit. Iterative change to the base model made for an improved fit, a stronger body, and more comfortable wear. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a step in the right direction for those craving a longer-lasting outdoor wearable. However, we still can’t help but think that Samsung missed a trick with the lineup.
Unlike the Galaxy Watch 4 series, there was no Classic model on offer this time around. More importantly, there was no model with a physical rotating bezel. We’re big fans of the rotating bezel, and it made navigating the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic’s interface a pleasure. The touch bezel isn’t equivalent. Cycling through menus is a hit-and-miss affair and an unrewarding learning curve.
You can still buy a Samsung smartwatch with a rotating bezel, but that means settling for an older model
How can Samsung fix this in 2023? We’d love to see a rotating bezel on the next Galaxy Watch Pro model. The value it adds to UI navigation outweighs any problems it may introduce. It may even add additional protection to the Galaxy Watch Pro if titanium is used again.
You can still purchase the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic if you want a Wear OS watch with a rotating bezel, but that means settling for older hardware and features.
Wear OS 3 running on Gen 6 hardware had, and still has, plenty of issues
To be entirely fair to Fossil, most of these issues were out of the company’s control. It also provided owners with a detailed, frills-free explanation of the missing features and update process before issuing it. But that doesn’t matter for users who expect most (if not all) of the features of Wear OS 3 to be ready when the update comes around, especially after the long wait.
How can Fossil remedy this? Well, it has already begun improving the software experience on its Gen 6 platform. Users have noted that the OS is buttery smooth on the wearables, while battery life isn’t affected much. We expect the wearable to only get better from here, which fills us with plenty of excitement for the Fossil Gen 7 when it eventually debuts.
Xiaomi’s app identity crisis continues
Andy Walker / Android Authority
Mi Fitness (formerly Xiaomi Wear)
We’re fond of Xiaomi’s wearable hardware, with the Mi Band line continuously featuring on our best budget fitness band list. Xiaomi has this formula nailed down, but software is another story. Earlier this year, Xiaomi rebranded the two apps that support the Mi Band line and its other smartwatches. Mi Fit became Zepp Life (Play Store), and Xiaomi Wear became Mi Fitness (Play Store). However, a rebrand is not what the app situation needed.Honorable mentions
There are a few other smartwatch failure stories from 2023 worth mentioning. Have a look at our quick-fire (dis)honorable mentions below.
Fitbit recalls its first real smartwatch: Fitbit initiated a worldwide voluntary recall of the Ionic in March 2023. The company had received more than 100 overheating reports in the US with 78 of these instances causing injury.
Meta halts its smartwatch development: In November 2023, Meta announced mass layoffs of some 11,000 employees, thus shuttering its Portal and smartwatch projects. And yes, apparently Meta was working on a wearable.
$1,200 for what? The Montblanc Summit 3 was among the first wearables after Galaxy Watches to launch with Wear OS 3. You have to give it applause for that, at least. However, its meager abilities and feature set couldn’t match its very, very lofty price tag.
You're reading These Are The Biggest Smartwatch Fails And Flops Of 2023
Also read: The best Wear OS watches you can buy
That’s all to say, the state of Wear OS in 2023 has been underwhelming. I want so badly to stay positive and to say Google will turn things around in 2023. However, I just don’t see that happening. Let’s talk about Google’s year in review for Wear OS.
Suunto 7: The Suunto 7 is the Finnish fitness company’s first attempt at a Wear OS smartwatch. It’s Suunto’s worst GPS watch to date, but the best Wear OS watch for fitness.
SKAGEN Falster 3: The SKAGEN Falster 3 (finally) has solid hardware and comes in a variety of minimalist styles and colorways.
Diesel Fadelite: The Diesel Fadelite won’t win any performance awards, but it’s one of the hottest-looking Wear OS watches this year.
Tory Burch ToryTrack: Tory Burch’s new Wear OS smartwatch might be the best-looking smartwatch for women. It’s tough to find, but Macy’s seems to reliably have it in stock.
Montblanc Summit 2 Plus: Montblanc’s third-gen Summit 2 Plus smartwatch competes directly with Tag Heuer’s new offering (below). This LTE-connected luxury Wear OS watch will set you back $1,170 from Verizon.
Tag Heuer Connected (2023): Tag Heuer released another luxury Connected watch running Wear OS. Ranging from $1,800 to $2,550, these third-gen smartwatches should be suitable for wear during business meetings or even at the gym.
OPPO Watch: OPPO has a bad habit of copying Apple. However, the OPPO Watch is actually one of our favorite Wear OS wearables from this year.
Mobvoi TicWatch 3 Pro (GPS and LTE): Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 is the first Wear OS watch to run on the Snapdragon 4100 chipset. And boy, it does not disappoint.
Hublot Big Bang E: For the low, low price of $5,200, you can purchase Hublot’s Big Bang E watch running Wear OS. Just don’t expect it to launch with top-end specs or even built-in GPS.
Fossil Gen 5E: Fossil followed up the excellent Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch with the Gen 5E. It’s a cheaper Gen 5 that comes in multiple sizes.
Citizen CZ Smart: The CZ Smart, Citizen’s first-ever Wear OS watch, is classy and pricey, but might not have the specs to match.
Qualcomm finally delivered on a more power-efficient chip
The big news of the year was Qualcomm’s announcement of the Snapdragon Wear 4100 and 4100 Plus chipsets. They will no doubt power the next few generations of Wear OS watches.
Qualcomm’s last-gen 3100 series chips were all-around decent performers, but only if they were coupled with enough RAM to power Wear OS. The majority of the new watches launched in 2023 indeed had enough RAM (we say 1GB is the bare minimum), so performance is no longer a huge issue. Regardless, with watchmakers upping the RAM and the inevitable shift to the new 4100 series chips, Wear OS performance issues should be few and far between going forward.
Performance boosts and battery life improvements are the Snapdragon Wear 4100 series’ selling points over the last-gen chips. They’re built on a smaller 12nm process. Both feature improved 1.1GHz clock speeds, which results in an 85% performance increase. RAM and GPU improvements were also added to the 4100 series.
No watch has yet adopted the Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus, and only one has used the standard 4100.
Despite these improvements, companies have been slow to adopt the new 4100 platform. Currently, you can only find the Snapdragon Wear 4100 on one device — the TicWatch Pro 3. No smartwatch has yet adopted the 4100 Plus. We saw a similarly slow adoption rate with the last-gen 3100 series. Therefore, it might be some time before we see the older 3100-powered watches fade out. Keep in mind, smartwatch releases are not the same as smartphone releases. Watchmakers usually don’t rush out to launch a device with the latest and greatest chip just because it’s there. We’ll likely see a few more 3100-powered smartwatches launch before we’re in full-on 4100 mode.
Just one decent software update in 2023
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
We’ve covered the hardware, now let’s talk software. Google usually releases Wear OS updates sporadically and without much fanfare. 2023 was no different. It kicked off the 2023 Wear OS update schedule in April with a small, useful addition to the clock app that brought hand-washing reminders.
The big Wear OS update for 2023 didn’t arrive until September. Coinciding with the launch of the Snapdragon Wear 4100 series, Google rolled out a fall update with support for the new chipsets and faster performance for existing watches. Specifically, Google said improvements to the CPU core should bring a 20% speed increase in app loading time. The update also brought an improved pairing process, a new weather widget, and a bonafide hand-washing timer.
The fall update also had some developer-focused additions. Those included some of “the best” Android 11 features like Kotlin support and Jetpack libraries.
A handful of small updates on Wear OS arrived this year courtesy of Google Fit, too. An update (announced on a help forum, of all places) in April introduced redesigned Google Fit tiles on Wear OS. More recently, the Google Fit update from November brought a recent workouts tile, as well as more information-dense workout screens.
The Google-Fitbit deal is a wait-and-see situation for now.
We have already covered the ins and outs of the Google-Fitbit acquisition in great detail. Suffice it to say, Google will use Fitbit’s hardware, software, and of course data to bolster its wearable portfolio. After all, Google has yet to produce any first-party Wear OS hardware. Acquiring a gigantic fitness tracker company is one way to skyrocket itself into the wearables space.
There appears to be some treading water on Google’s part while the Fitbit acquisition goes through. Why would it waste time on its own operating system while — presumably any day now — it could bring on new talent with an already-established wearable portfolio? I’m not claiming to know what Google’s plans with Fitbit’s device ecosystem will bring. However, I’d be much more comfortable with that being Google’s excuse for not focusing on Wear OS as opposed to the alternative — that the company simply isn’t able to devote the time and resources into maintaining a decent smartwatch OS.
Read more: Fitbit vs Garmin: Which ecosystem is right for you?
This is a tricky one. Google needs to ensure Wear OS is well-optimized while watchmakers need to ensure their devices have things covered on the hardware side. Both Google and OEMs are also relying on Qualcomm’s chips to deliver power-efficient processors. Battery woes will no doubt diminish once more people have Snapdragon Wear 4100 devices on their wrists, too.
Following battery life woes, nearly 20% of our readers complained about the lack of updates issued to the platform. Obviously, we want more frequent Wear OS updates (see the section above), more third-party partnerships (hello Spotify), and better support for Google’s own apps.
Wear OS doesn’t need a complete overhaul. It just needs some attention. We know that, users do too, and so does Google probably. When and if the company will ever give it the attention it needs is another question. Here’s hoping 2023 brings a little more variety and stability to the platform.
When you’re preparing your strategy for next year, it’s vital to plan for potential upsets and challenges ahead.
This year, SEO practitioners overcame challenges posed by a lack of resources, issues with strategy, and the ability to scale processes.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, our State of SEO report finds practitioners anticipate machine learning and AI, Google updates, and the deprecation of third-party cookies to lead the way as the greatest shifts in SEO.
In this article, we’ll summarize key data points from our report, highlight three major challenges in particular, and look at relevant SEO trends that can aid in your strategy development.
All of the insights here are driven by our first-party survey data in the annual State Of SEO Report.Summary Of Report Findings
When asked what were the biggest SEO challenges over the last 12 months, respondents stated:
Lack of resources (14.9%).
Strategy issues (12.3%).
Scaling processes (11.9%).
Pandemic-related issues (11.2%).
Alignment with other departments (10.7%).
Budget cuts fell from the number one challenge SEO professionals faced in 2023 to number six this year.
However, the fact that lack of resources and scaling processes were top challenges in 2023 suggests that 2023’s budget cuts had a lasting impact.
Looking ahead to potential threats in 2023, we asked respondents to select up to three “biggest shifts” and industry changes in SEO. Here are their top responses:
Machine learning and AI (18.7%).
Google updates (18.0%).
Third-party cookie deprecation (13.9%).
Competition for talent (11.5%).
Factors SEO professionals are watching as emergent factors are:
Machine learning and AI (11.3%).
Core Web Vitals (10.8%).
EAT & trusted sources (10.2%).
Mobile SEO (9.8%).
SERP features (8.3%).SEO Pros Often Work With Limited Resources
Lack of resources came in as the top challenge faced by SEOs in 2023.
There’s little doubt that the industry is feeling the effects of budget cuts incurred in 2023, though another reason for the limited resources is that many SEOs aren’t working with large teams.
Over 40% of respondents report working with a team of 10 or fewer members, while roughly 5% said they work by themselves.
Adding new team members may prove difficult in the next year or two.
The State Of SEO Report goes into deeper detail about the challenges facing SEO professionals and what they’re worried about next year.Recent And Continuing Growth May Prove Challenging
Several of the SEO shifts predicted for 2023 and beyond are potential impediments to growth.
Recent and continuing growth may prove challenging without the ability to scale as a team, and competition for talent is expected to be a major cause for concern over the next two years.
Deprecation of third-party cookies makes it difficult for SEO pros and marketers to sustain recent growth, as they’ll be expected to deliver the same or better results with fewer data.Strategy Is A Concern For Many SEO Pros
SEOs listed strategy issues as one of their greatest challenges over the last 12 months.
Strategy issues may indicate that SEO professionals are struggling to prove their ROI (return on investment).
While over half of SEO practitioners (58.0%) we surveyed reported an increase in the ROI for their work, many struggled to prove ROI, and 29% of SEO professionals reported feeling ambivalent about their ROI.
In our chapter on Winning Strategies And Measuring SEO Success, we discuss how ROI problems are often the result of a disconnect between a brand’s target goals and the data being tracked.SEO Pros Expect Machine Learning And AI To Have A Big Impact
Topping the list of biggest shifts over the next two years, as anticipated by SEO pros, is machine learning and AI.
Additionally, machine learning and AI were the top responses when SEO pros were asked to rank what they think will be the most important emergent factors in 2023.
To understand better why machine learning and AI are at the top of everyone’s minds, we turned to our in-house experts to get more context.
“As a disruptor, I can’t yet see AI being able to replace critical decisions and choices where there are several routes to take, and you have to make a choice based on expertise. The tool is only as good as the person driving it. At the moment, there is a flood of tools powered by GPT-3.
These are great for low-end volume content, such as product descriptions, but they widen the divide and elevate well-researched thought leadership quality content. As niches online become saturated by AI-spun content, the quality will be the only way to stand out. Ultimately, overuse will only have a detrimental effect.”
To see all of the first-party survey data and read more insights, download the State Of SEO Report.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal
Men’s Rowing Competes in Biggest Race of the Year Terriers hope to medal at IRA Championships this weekend
Athletes in the second varsity eight boat work on their precision and technique heading into the IRA Championships. Photos by Jackie Ricciardi
During Tom Bohrer’s first year as head coach of the BU men’s rowing team, the Terriers achieved a goal that had previously eluded them: they placed two varsity boats in the grand finals of the 2009 Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships. Thanks to National Rowing Hall of Fame inductee Bohrer’s expert tutelage, the Terriers earned that year’s Clayton Chapman Award for most improved team in the country—and have returned to the IRA Championships each season since.
Now, as the Terriers prepare to compete in the 112th IRA Championships, beginning tomorrow, Friday, May 30, in Mercer County, N.J., their sights are set on one goal: medaling in the grand finals.
Since rowing is a tradition that predates most Division I sports, the IRA Championships remains an invitational event, with 24 schools selected to compete every year. This year, member schools Columbia, Cornell, Pennsylvania, Navy, and Syracuse selected 19 additional programs (including BU’s) to compete at the regatta.
“It’s the race of the year,” Bohrer says. “It’s our championship. The tradition is over 100 years old, and features some of the best college rowing in the country. We’re honored to be invited, and feel we have a good chance of putting all our boats in the grand finals.”
With the school year over, the Terriers have been able to devote the final week of their season exclusively to training. “This is what we focus on the entire year,” says cocaptain Kyle Peabody (CAS’14). “Now that we’re able to commit to rowing full-time, it certainly increases our conditioning, and that showed in our performance at Eastern Sprints. All five of our boats didn’t just make the grand finals—they were in the race right down to the finish line. We’re settled into our lineups, and I feel we’re really solidifying our rhythm heading into the IRA Championships.”
During a recent practice, Bohrer honed in on specific skills by having the athletes repeat the process of getting the boat started with an initial stroke and then work on their form by rowing one-handed at times.
“At this point in the season, most of the technical aspects of our training are complete,” Bohrer says. “We’re really trying to improve our sharpness. It’s not all about speed; precision can be even more important. That’s what rowing is all about: everyone getting their blades down at the same time, pushing off together, and stroking in unison.”
During last year’s championships, the second varsity eight and the varsity four boats finished in the top five, and BU finished 12th overall in team points. Bohrer believes this year’s varsity eight could finish in the top five for the first time in program history.
“You want all your boats to do well, and all the races are important, but the varsity eight is the big one,” he says. “Most of those guys are seniors, and they’re part of the second full class that’s come through since I’ve been here. I can safely characterize most of them as selfless. They could’ve hung their head when things didn’t go their way a few years ago, but they didn’t. They work hard, have fun, have good values, and instill those qualities in everyone else. Going into the biggest race of the year, there’s no one I trust more than them.”
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Cloud gaming has become increasingly popular in recent years, allowing users to play high-quality video games on various devices, including consoles.
However, with so many options on the market, it can take time to decide which cloud gaming console is right for you. So here we will be discussing our educated recommendations.Does cloud gaming work on consoles?
A few users have been curious and brought up the question. The simple answer is Yes; cloud gaming can work on a console.
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Last Updated on July 22, 2023
The pandemic hasn’t just impacted the world physically and financially, it’s hit home mentally too. Being in isolation for the best part of twelve months has either brought out or developed various mental health issues for people across the world, not to mention reintroducing ourselves into society. Who would have thought we’d ever had to recover from a lockdown?
We all love playing video games and messing around with the latest tech, but it doesn’t necessarily help us manage our mental health needs, which are still misunderstood in 2023. Whether you’re vocal about mental health issues or not, there are some great apps that can help manage mental health overall, with some targeting specific mental ailments such as anxiety and depression.
Before we get into some of these apps, we just wish to make it clear that these apps will not simply cure any and all mental health struggles. A healthy diet, exercise, and staying linked in with your GP or health specialist is highly recommended not just for managing mental health, but for your physical health and wellbeing too.The Best Mental Health Apps
Here are some stand-out mental health management/help apps from Google Play and App Store. There really is something here for everyone, but most importantly we hope you find something that makes life just that little bit easier:
Good For: Meditation to help manage stress, anxiety, depression, and more.
Price: £9.99 a monthThrive
Good For: Learning coping mechanisms.
This NHS-recommended helps manage stress and anxiety whilst giving you some clever tools to help manage those down days. It helps to track moods whilst educating users on best practice coping mechanisms, which must be worthwhile judging by its 3 million active users. Find it on Google Play and the App Store.Calm
Good For: Guided meditations and more inc. celebrity content
Guided meditations are very popular these days across YouTube and streaming. It’s no wonder mental wellbeing apps are getting in on the action. Calm puts their own spin on this with guest celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Harry Styles to help you on your way with general calmness content and ‘sleep scapes’ and sleep stories. Find it on Google Play and the App Store.Babylon
Good For: Qualified professional therapy sessions
Price: £49 per session or £149 for the year.
Covid-19 has taught us the value of working from home and virtual services, cutting down costs, commutes and having a brilliant work/life balance. Babylon offers professional therapy sessions alongside prescription services, appointments with qualified GPs, and healthcare informational services. Registered behavioral therapists will carry out virtual video appointments, so you know you’ll be in the best hands. Find it on Google Play and the App Store.Chill Panda
Good For: Breathing and distracting exercises alongside worry management.
Anxiety is an absolute pain to manage at the best of times, and it’s even harder to focus on how to calm the symptoms down. Luckily, Chill Panda is a free app that specializes in breathing and distracting exercises to help manage those anxiety attacks and spikes. If you’re anything like some of the PC Guide team, worrying is a big thing to deal with when it comes to anxiety. Find it on Google Play and the App Store.Cove: Music for mental health
Good For: Learning how to express feelings
The hardest thing to do for many of us is to explain how we’re feeling, especially in circles that don’t see mental health as a priority or a weakness. This is part of a wider problem of nailing down the fundamentals of mental health awareness so people know it’s OK to not be OK and get the help they need. Using music to invoke emotions, users can note down their feelings and get used to expressing and processing different emotions daily. Find it on the App Store.Wysa
Good For: Teen mental health management
Being a teenager is rough emotionally. Without various external modifiers, the chemical changes and growth in teenagers really knock emotional balances off. Add to the mix over a year of lockdowns and lack of stimulation and users will have a boiling pot of emotions to deal with. By using AI and qualified mental health professionals, users can essentially use a chatbot to express their emotions and work through them. There’s also a plethora of courses to deal with anxiety, self-esteem, bullying, and more. Find it on Google Play and the App Store.Biamother
Good For: Post and Prenatal mental health care
Price: £16.99 a month
The only thing that’s more emotionally confusing than being a teenager is being a pregnant or new mother. The chemical imbalances for expecting mums are unreal and hard to cope with for both parents, but mostly Mummy of course. Things such as stress and post-natal depression can have devastating effects on Mum and Baby, Biamother delivers pregnancy-focused meditations, podcasts, and anxiety help from experts to help you cope with pregnancy and being a new Mum. Find it on Google Play and App Store.My Possible Self
Good for: Happiness and wellbeing tools
My possible self is an interactive tool that helps its users develop positivity and well-being-focused behaviors that, alongside CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), can help manage various mental health conditions. We’re not saying it’s not OK to have a down day, but CBT and learning the right toolset that helps you will make those days feel a lot easier to cope with. Find it on Google Play and App Store.Other Mental Health Help
We really hope one of these apps helps you in your day-to-day, but again we must point out that all of the above apps are tools intended to help you. If you are struggling, please consult your GP for an appointment. Mental health issues can be a result of chemical imbalances that need medical attention, just like physical ailments. If you feel like you can’t wait for an appointment or you are a danger to yourself in any way, please find the below hotlines for help right away:
Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours
Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
Under 19? you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.
Find our local NHS urgent mental health helpline hereFor our readers in USA
“If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.
You can also call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 at the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. Trained crisis workers will listen to you and direct you to the resources you need.”
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