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ODH's Dr. Amy Acton says state is ready for surge of mental health needs

Posted at 12:40 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 12:46:05-04

CLEVELAND — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, stress and anxiety are normal feelings, particularly during a difficult time like this. That's why the Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said the state is ready for more Ohioans to use mental health services.

A caller on the mental health line at the May Dugan Center says she deals with just about everything.

"Depression, anxiety, panic disorder,” said a woman who does not want to be identified.

She says this pandemic is making everything worse.

"I feel OK for right now, and I do have my days when I’m not OK and that’s when I’ll call them,” she said.

She’s talking about the May Dugan Center. They have lots of programs, including behavioral health services and she says without them, life in isolation would be unbearable.

"More destructive, especially if I’m alone in my brain for a very long time,” she said.

The number of people using behavioral health services all over the state continue to surge. Even Dr. Amy Acton referenced the need during Tuesday’s news conference.

"Our Kaiser Permanente, their foundation did a study that was just released in the last 24 hours showing an increase of over 1,000% of people reaching out for help,” said Dr. Acton.

Dr. Acton went on to talk about how the state is ready for more and more people to use its services.

"Disasters create a behavioral health surge, it happens during the crisis as well as up to 6 months afterwards,” said Lois Hochstetler.

Lois Hochstetler is the assistant director for community treatment services for the Ohio Department of Health and Addiction Services, which helps fund programs all over the state including some of the ones at the May Dugan Center. Hochstetler says their partners are ready.

"Different communities around the state are setting things up for their communities individual needs, whether it is bringing on staff, whether it is doing tele-health, they are able to serve more individuals by doing creative options like that and so they are confident that they will be able to handle a surge,” she said.

The state also set up a COVID care line, where folks in need can call 24/7 at (800) 720-9616.

"In the first week of our care line, we had over 600 calls,” said Hochstetler.

She says nothing beats talking about your problems out with a professional, but these things might help:

Exercising, watching what you eat, drinking more water, sleeping regularly and mediating.

The Ohio Department of Health and Addiction Services also has a "Strive for Five" challenge happening now, where they are encouraging folks to reach out to five people to get and give support.