Virus, isolation spotlight need for mental health services

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Stress is taking its toll among mental health clients in Sacramento County during the COVID-19 crisis, but despite the treatment challenges caused by the stay-at-home orders, county mental health services have found ways to continue treating clients.

“We’re seeing increased cases of anxiety and depression as you might expect,” county Behavioral Health Director Ryan Quist said.

Quist says humans are social animals that don’t always do well in isolation. Even those who are coping well may get worn down by the crisis.

“It’s not if you will feel stressed,” Quist said. “It’s when you feel stressed.”

Sacramento County has its own treatment facilities but contracts out much of its work to private mental health providers that have turned to telephones and tele-health means for treatment, which can be intensely personal but with surprising results.

“We’re actually finding that people are less likely to do no-shows for our psychiatric, for our medication services. Youths really like it,” Quist said.

On the other hand, others are not seeking mental health services since the stay-at-home order, similar to how fewer people are coming to emergency rooms for medical treatment.

“We’re about half of what we normally see in terms of people seeking services. We know that the needs have not gone away,” Quist said.

It’s not an idle concern. Calls to crisis and suicide hotlines locally have gone up 40 percent — a reason to ask for help and for concerned family members to step in.

For your own mental health, Quist recommends that you talk to three people everyday, connecting to people and perhaps volunteering help.

“Reach out and talk to people,” Quist said. “You’d be amazed at how much it helps yourself when you help others.”

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