At This Hour

There’s limited consensus on how and when to re-open schools, healthcare facilities, camps and mental health clinics, but there is consensus that re-opening needs to happen safely, and soon. Here are some recent statistics and developments in how schools, camps and the mental health community are beginning to open up services during the coronavirus:

  • Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio has announced the launch of an outpatient clinic to treat children and youth up to the age of 18 with substance use disorders. The new clinic will complement an existing program at Akron Children’s that treats patients with other diagnoses who also have a substance use disorder.
  • In Pennsylvania, behavioral health services are reopening under Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan. Masks required, although telehealth remains to be preferred method.
  • In Georgia, an opioid treatment center called The Athens Clinic is still postponing face-to-face counseling but is still open during regular hours for getting ‘extra take-home medication’ or receiving ‘Naloxone’.
  • In Kansas City, Missouri, non-for-profit behavioral health agency CommCare says their call center has seen a dramatic uptick in calls, particularly in April as the COVID-19 restrictions began to feel relentless for many. Spokesman Keith Davenport says the county’s 24/7 crisis hotline is receiving almost 400 calls per week.
  • Online therapy company Talkspace reports a 65 percent jump in new patients since mid-February.
  • In Connecticut, school buildings remain closed and summer nears, so there’s growing debate about how to offer physical activity for kids to help with social-emotional and physical development. Re-entry guidelines for camps are very complicated given the point of ‘play’ and the difficulty monitoring kids as they compete and move. One camp is planning small groups of 10 kids to be with a single coach for a 90-minute period on ‘sunshine’ days only, playing games that limit contact, but gets kids running, competing.
  • Julia Hoffman, PsyD, says there’s a 10-25 year reduction in life expectancy for those with severe mental disorders, but believes digital behavioral health is growing in value. She believes this will be the newer standard of care. “Thank goodness we walked into this crisis with 15 years experience,” says Hoffman, who heads up strategy for Livongo. Trina Histon, who helps Kaiser Permanente with prevention and wellness, says the wide use of smart phones nationally (about 70-80% of citizens with some access) is vital to accelerating services.

One thought on “At This Hour

  1. The pandemic has forced us to rethink our education methodologies. What’s worse is that we cannot experiment with any of the plans we come up with to reopen schools. The plans have to be foolproof. And if parents are not going to send their children to school, the authorities should be okay with that.

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