If a person is struggling with mental health issues, the consequences can be dire: self-harm, including death, estrangement from family and friends, job and financial loss, and withdrawal from everyday life. Our society is learning that we must strengthen the services that are provided to help.
We asked a leading behavioral health professional to share her perspective. Kathy Dollard, Psy.D., LP was the Behavioral Health Service Line Manager for almost five years at MyMichigan Health. Behavioral health services include inpatient care, outpatient services including care for treatment-resistant depression (ECT, TMS, Spravato) and drug addiction treatment (MAT), individual therapy and group, behavioral health integrated into primary care offices, crisis care in emergency department and via telemedicine and pediatric applied behavior analysis (ABA). This spring, MyMichigan will launch a partial hospitalization program in Midland.
Article by Kathy Dollard
This past year has been difficult for many of us. The continued stress of the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing behavioral health issues, and people who are normally quite resilient have found their tanks to be dry. Survey data showed an increase in depression, anxiety and substance use as the pandemic lingered. Additionally, in some areas, children’s hospitals have declared a state of emergency for children’s behavioral health, with emergency departments inundated with children waiting for psychiatric beds that are already full. This sad scene is also playing out in our region on a smaller scale.
About 1 in 5 adult Americans live with a mental illness, with conditions ranging from common depression and anxiety to schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, among others.Although there is a growing need, it has also been difficult to hire behavioral health professionals. Local providers are doing their best and some are working together on new solutions such as a very successful behavioral health telehub. In fact, seemingly overnight, the visits that always took place in offices were now carried out using computers, iPads, and phones from the comfort of home. People now have the ability to book appointments remotely, either with local providers or with providers found through the internet. Insurance has started to cover remote visits, and this should continue. Ultimately, if there is one good that emerges from our situation, it is that telemedicine has extended access to care to people who have never been able or would never have set foot in a psychiatrist’s or therapist’s office.
In addition to telemedicine for behavioral health, several mobile applications have been developed to help with sleep, mood and stress. Here at home, Community Mental Health for Central Michigan offered My strength a free mobile app that addresses a variety of behavioral health issues. NAMI Midland continues to offer groups through Zoom, and MyMichigan Health has offered loneliness virtual groups with a new group starting January 11, 2022.
Behavioral health services include inpatient care and outpatient services.
Still optimistic, I hope we come out of this experience with more empathy and understanding for others and with less stigma around behavioral health and care seeking. More and more people are coming forward to talk about behavioral health and this openness and support that fights stigma.
Additionally, on a positive note, in recent years Midland has embarked on a tremendous movement of positive psychology and wellness. There is a lot of effort going into helping our community not only to get back to baseline, but to be a community where everyone thrives. We will go through this together. One step after another.