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Depression & Mental Health Blog
March 25, 2020
SBMH
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Why Mental Health Treatment Cannot Stop During the Coronavirus Outbreak

For all of the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic and the panic that has ensued as a result, there is at least one constant – those who are suffering for mental health issues still require treatment. If anything, they may require more treatment due to the barrage of negative news coming from every corner of our lives. Even before this crisis, mental health was a serious societal concern. Not only do we still attach significant stigma to mental health issues, but appropriate treatment has been hard to come by for the vast majority of Americans. The result? During times of significant upheaval such as these, mental health concerns may take a backseat to what many consider to be a more important problem. But while the spread of the coronavirus is at the top of everyone’s minds, mental illness is a continuing crisis that has been unfolding in front of our eyes. Prevention of a virus’ spread, and treatment of mental illnesses are not mutually exclusive. For those wondering what the next step might be, here are a few thoughts from all of us here at the Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center.

Insurance will still pay for a mental health treatment

Many of us are scared and concerned about the financial consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. We hear of layoffs on a daily basis and many of us are wondering if we might be next. This may lead us to believe that getting treatment for mental health issues is beyond our financial control. However, those with an insurance plan that covers mental health treatment should be able to receive appropriate care. While wait times on the phone may be very long, verifying your benefits is the first step. You can also rely on the staff at a mental health treatment center, such as ours, to help verify your benefits and ensure you understand coverages. For those with insufficient insurance coverage or no coverage at all, there are self-pay options as well as low-cost or free programs throughout the community.

Mental health facilities are trained for infection control

While it may be tempting to believe that going to a mental health facility increases your risk of catching coronavirus or another infection, this is not necessarily the case. Treatment centers, such as ours, train each of our employees in the important facets of infection control. Remember that those with mental health problems often have cooccurring substance abuse disorders and effective infection control has been a cornerstone of treatment from the day we opened our doors. For our part, we have modified our already stringent infection control procedures to ensure that coronavirus does not affect our facilities, clients or employees. You can read more about our COVID-19 response policy here.

Delaying mental health may cause worsening of symptoms, even death

Any delay to treating mental health issues, no matter how mild or severe, can lead to worsening of symptoms. Those with mental health issues are also at higher risk of death due to substance abuse as well as suicide. While times such as these make us want to crawl in bed and hide, the opposite is often the best course of action - talking about our problems and getting appropriate help. Indeed, it is the delay of appropriate care, usually for many years, that is often cited as one of the reasons why the crisis has been exacerbated in the United States.

Distance and telehealth options may be available

Unfortunately, many Americans do not have access to appropriate facilities that can effectively treat severe mental illness or co-occurring disorders. For these clients, distance or telehealth options may be available and should be taken advantage of. Some facilities, such as ours, accept patients from other states. There may also be regional resources for virtual visits. Most importantly is to begin the process toward healing. Studies have shown that longer delays to receiving appropriate care result in poorer outcomes. While the coronavirus outbreak may only last for a few more weeks or months, the stresses associated with these uncertain times can worsen and amplify mental illness, making prompt treatment even more important.