Mental health professionals finding new ways to care for patients

WISCONSIN (WBAY) - Mental health care is a critical service for many people. So, in a time when social distancing is a necessity for public health, mental health professionals have needed to find alternative ways to assist the people who need them.

"This line of service, you need to have that personal contact in one way or another,” said Rosangela Berbert, executive director at the Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley.

Mental health professionals like Berbert know it’s times like these when their specialized care is needed most.

"When they are socially isolated or socially distancing, to have someone to support and help them deal with the anxieties that are just natural at this time," Berbert.

"People are recommended to stay in their homes, and that is not good for some of our patients,” said Signa Meyers, executive director of operations at Rogers Behavioral Health.

Fox Valley organizations like the Samaritan Counseling Center and Rodgers Behavioral Health now have to navigate what's best for clients, and their own health, during the coronavirus outbreak.

"Every day a patient comes in we're temperature screening them and asking additional questions,” said Meyer. "We're limiting different patients being exposed to other patients, keeping them more contained."

In addition to extra screening and preventative measures, telehealth and phone options are being used as well.

"We have our staff being trained for that, we have our systems being adjusted for that, and we have been contacting all of our clients to educate them about this opportunity," said Berbert.

It’s something larger health organizations like Agnesian are utilizing, too.

"There's been a lot of evidence that it's comparable when done and delivered correctly,” said Dr. Matthew Doll, the director of Agnesian’s Behavioral Health Department. “In our state there are some difficulties. There are many people that do not have adequate internet speed for telehealth. There are people without cellphones."

Which is why some in-person treatment will still be available at many of these mental health organizations.

"People can be in crisis and need direct service in order to keep them alive, in order to address an emergent condition or help them with underlying conditions," said Doll.

But, they’ll still be keeping CDC recommendations in mind.

"We are an essential service we are going to remain here to help our patients and we're going to continue to meet this demand with data and facts and help out patients through this,” said Meyer.

"It's a delicate balance, but we want to make sure we that we continue to provide this life saving service,” said Berbert.

Agnesian, Samaritan, and Rogers are all accepting clients who need their help despite the unique circumstances at this time.

"Mental Health is still an important factor,” said Meyer. “If you need help please call.”

"It's important for people to know that centers like Smaritan Center of the Fox Valley are all trying to do their best to serve their population and this is a critical time," said Berbert.

If you need mental health assistance, contact your local county health departments for the programs available. If you are in crisis, you can visit this site for Wisconsin crisis hotline numbers or text HOPELINE to 741741.