Local Agencies Share Mental Health Support, Crisis Line & More

Local Agencies Share Mental Health Support, Crisis Line & More

(Lara Mossa, March 20, 2020)

TROY, MI – During these trying times, health care professionals are urging people to take care of their mental health as well as their physical well-being.

“I think uncertainty can lead to anxiety for people,” said Nicole Lawson, Deputy Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer of Oakland Community Health Network. “It exacerbates existing anxiety. That would be the most prevalent thing we’re seeing and hearing at this point.”

OCHN, which is contracted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to oversee and manage public behavioral health services in Oakland County, has not seen a huge influx of people suffering mentally because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as of yet, but is educating the public on ways to stay well.

“We’re not seeing any spikes in specific diagnosis or new people coming in for services other than what we normally see,” Lawson said.

There is a difference between social distancing and self-isolation, she added.

“During this time, it’s important that people find ways to stay connected to their loved ones and community even while honoring social distance practices…The important thing is to continue to reach out to people even if you can’t see them or be in close proximity to them.”

She urged residents to use FaceTime or other interactive means such as using electronic devices, telephone calls and texting as ways to ward off symptoms of depression.

The organization suggested having age-appropriate conversations with children; providing community support such as checking in on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or live alone; and monitoring and minimizing overexposure to media reports.

Services by the county providers have continued with some changes. The agencies are reaching out to people they serve through telephone or telehealth, which is any health care service delivered via videos or phone calls. Some vocational services have closed based on Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to reduce how many people can gather at one time. Those include day care programs or job coaching, Lawson explained.

The OCHN Crisis Helpline at (800) 231-1127 is still available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And there is another helpline at 248-464-6363 for people seeking information about local mental health services.

In addition, a wealth of information is available on the OCHN website with links to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oakland County Health Division and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, the OCHN is working on ways to support providers with funding and policy guidance, among other issues.

“We haven’t had to increase staff,” she said. “We are looking for ways to support our direct care professionals who would be considered essential health care personnel.”

Another effect of the Coronavirus is people turning to drugs and alcohol, said Dr. Debra Pinals, Medical Director for Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“I think right now as the situation is becoming more and more real in Michigan, the common health challenges include personalized fear and worry about what might happen,” she added. “Maybe people feel confused or unclear about what all of this means. People might be losing sleep, having trouble concentrating and not taking care of their personal, physical health. They’re preoccupied with worry and concern.”

If people are already in treatment for a mental-health condition they should continue treatment and anyone experiencing mental challenges should contact their primary care provider or local mental health professional, she suggested.

“I think it’s important that we are thinking about the mental health consequences of this type of public health crises,” she said. “Mental health and physical health go hand in and hand and that it is important to think about strategies that prioritize both physical and mental well-being.”

Resources are available on the www.cdc.gov website, the www.michigan.gov website and other agencies attuned to mental health.

Some of these include:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

American Psychiatric Association

National Council for Behavioral Health

Oakland Community Health Network

Oakland County Health Division

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The OCHN Crisis Helpline at (800) 231-1127 is still available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And there is another helpline at 248-464-6363 for people seeking information about local mental health services.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

About the author

Oakland County Times has written 11883 articles for Oakland County Times

The Oakland County Times started with one city in 2009 and has grown to the community news hub you see today. Contact editor@oc115.com if you have any questions, comments, event listings, etc. Please support this work by becoming an advertising sponsor or check out our online community garden. Also happy to hear tips and story ideas.

Comments are closed.