Mental health patients face hurdles in light of coronavirus
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become a stressful situation for many. Fear and anxiety about a pandemic can be overwhelming and bring about strong emotions in adults as well as children.
According to the CDC, people who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19, children and teens, health care providers and first responders, and people who have mental health conditions including problems with substance abuse.
Many mental health facilities are having to make adjustments to avoid coming in contact with patients. Nancy Bourque - Manager of Ville Platte Behavioral Health, an outpatient mental health clinic, said, “We are not able to do face-to-face services, but we’re doing everything via telehealth, meaning over the phone or computer. We can maintain medications and monitor for any side effects or problems. We’re still providing mental health treatment.” She said they are also providing coverage at Chicot State Park for anyone who tests positive and is sent to the park in case of an over-flow. If anyone has any mental health needs, they can call 337-363-5525.
Jackie Riché, marketing director for New Horizons Psychiatric Hospital of Mamou, said, “In a collaborated effort to keep Evangeline Parish physically and mentally healthy Savoy Medical Center is prepping for a spike in patient referrals due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The New Horizons unit and staff are now using telemedicine visits for patient/doctor visits so there are no interruptions in their ongoing personalized treatment plan. New admissions are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. New Horizons’ Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is currently working on setting up online options for patients to be able to attend their mandated groups.” New Horizons, SMC’s Inpatient Detox and Psychiatric 27 bed Unit, is located on the SMC campus in Mamou.
Riché continued: “Because our goal is to ensure our hospital continues to be a safe place to receive care, we are following CDC & LA Department of Health guidelines and have implemented the recommended no visitor restrictions in order to limit the risk of exposure to our patients, visitors, associates, physicians and volunteers.” Although New Horizons is not physically located in Savoy Medical Center, only outpatient medically necessary lab and X-rays patients are allowed in through the front hospital lobby entrance following screening, should that become necessary. For more information about New Horizons’ inpatient program please call (337) 468-0482, and (337) 468-0555 for the outpatient program. All calls and inquiries are confidential.
A pandemic can cause many stress triggers which can include difficult sleeping, worsening of chronic health problems, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, worrying about yourself and loved ones, and increased uses of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. There are numerous ways to ease stress. One easy way to reduce stress is to simply unplug, which means to get off of social media and turning off the news for a while. Go for a walk, do some exercises, or read a good book or watch a movie. Some people tend to eat snacks and junk food mindlessly when faced with stress, but following a good diet is important to maintain your health, which also helps with your mental health. Processed foods and foods high in sugar and sodium have long been found to affect mental health.
Children and teens may develop stress from seeing how their parents and other adults react to COVID-19. If parents and caregivers deal with the pandemic calmly and with confidence, it will help their children to do the same, and give them a healthier support system. According to the CDC, Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:
• Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
• Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
• Excessive worry or sadness
• Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
• Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
• Difficulty with attention and concentration
• Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
• Unexplained headaches or body pain
• Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
First responders, health care workers, and even those who have recovered from Coronavirus may all experience some form of mental health crisis. They are urged to seek help to deal with any emotional problems they could be experiencing. Additionally, the CDC recommends people with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus). Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.