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Experts express importance of access to mental health resources during pandemic

(KY3)
Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 9:00 PM CDT
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It's easy to get down while stuck at home, not able to see friends or family, or even go inside a restaurant or movie theater.

Local health leaders say there are resources to help you get through these tough times.

"This is really an anxiety provoking time, everything has changed, and it's happened quickly," said Adam Andreassen, the CEO of Burrell Behavioral Health.

Health experts in the Ozarks say the current pandemic has put a lot of pressure on the mental health of those staying at home right now.

"I'd shy away from the word that we're using all of the time, social distancing. I think we need to say physical distancing," said Stephanie Appleby, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the Ozarks. "It's okay to be social and go out and talk to your neighbors or on your Zoom. That's the most important thing that you can do is not isolate."

No matter your mental health history, experts are here to help.

"You don't have to have a mental health problem because mental health problems are human problems," said Andreassen. "We just run up against stressors and we need support."

Andreassen and Appleby said the stay-at-home orders have impacted the way people have been able to access mental health care. Right now, they're working to make that help more accessible with virtual options you can use from home."

He said Burrell still allows patients to have face-to-face access to health care, but has also expanded their virtual resources.

"We have options by televideo, we have options by telephone. One of the big breakthroughs we've had in the last few weeks is, even if you're not currently a Burrell Client, we can initiate services with you by phone, by video," said Andreassen.

Appleby said the NAMI offices are closed right now, but are still working to get people the help they need. They have a telephone line anyone can call if they would like to chat with someone, and employees are also working to provide help to the homeless.

"We also have about 15 different Zoom support groups that we're doing," Appleby said. "We've had a tremendous outcome with that. A lot of people are coming on. Some people are choosing to be anonymous and not turning on their video, which is fine."

As the state works toward re-opening, the mental health exerts said there could be a wave of new patients asking for help.

"Our fear is that a lot of these folks that are working on the front lines. The nurses, the docs, all of these folks that are doing all of this for us. There's going to be a tremendous amount of PTSD and we want them to know that we are there for them," Appleby said.

Burrell has also opened up separate phone and video line for health care workers and other essential workers out on the front lines. Andreassen said many people are expecting life to return to normal once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, but said people will need to accept there will be a new normal.

"If this is the storm, what happens next is after the storm," he said. "If this is the war, what happens next is our recovery and what happens next is going to bring new challenges."

Call 417-761-5263 for inquiries about Burell's Coping with COVID-19 group sessions.

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for more Burrell Behavioral Health Resources.

Call 417-864-3676 to access NAMI's warm line.

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for more resources provided by NAMI.