Accessing mental services during pandemic


TROY – By adapting their businesses to rapidly changing condition, the area’s mental health and addictions provider agencies have been able to meet the needs of clients and an anxious public during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mental health crisis services are available, within the limits imposed on admission to public places such as jails and hospitals. Persons experiencing a mental health crisis, generally defined as severe, debilitating symptoms of anxiety or depression, loss of reality, or suicidal thoughts, should call the 24\7 Tri-County Crisis Hotline at 800-351-7347.

Persons who may be experiencing a crisis but can’t don’t want to talk may use the national Crisis Text Line by texting “4hope” to 741741.

Persons concerned about suicidal thoughts may also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Talking about suicide is often the best way to prevent a suicide attempt.

Persons who are anxious but not in crisis may call the HOPE Line operated by SaveHaven Inc. The warm line – as opposed to a hotline for emergencies – allows people to talk about their concerns with a trained operator. The HOPE Line can be reached at 937-451-3232 or toll free at 855-276-HOPE (4673). Hours are Monday through Friday 4-11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 4-8 p.m.

Recovery and Wellness Centers of Midwest Ohio in Greenville asks that new or existing clients not come to the facility unless requested to do so, but rather call the central scheduling number, 937-423-6356, and to check the website, recoveryandwellnessohio.org for updates and information.

RWC Executive Director Cynthia Wion said their transition to alternative methods of meeting clients has gone relatively smoothly given the suddenness of the pandemic restrictions.

MCRC Executive Director Thom Grim said, “We are still here for people. We are being careful for staff who are on the front lines, but we are still providing services for those who need them.” He added that group therapy, which has been temporarily suspended due to restrictions on the size of gatherings, will soon resume through an online format.

At Safehaven’s locations in Piqua, Greenville and Sidney, staff is available by phone and online, but on-site activities have been curtailed. Executive Director Doug Metcalfe stated that while SafeHaven is unable to open to members, they are adapting services to provide meals to current members along with activities and online group meetings. Online support sessions will take place at 11:30 a.m., 1 and 2:30 p.m., and will be site-specific.

For a complete rundown of services available to SafeHaven members, go to safehaveninc.com.

The Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services has been closely monitoring updates from the Governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to help provide guidance to local providers of services.

For example, existing Medicaid rules do not allow agencies to bill for counseling services by telephone. However, once the scope of the pandemic became apparent, the Governor’s office and OhioMHAS expressed a strong inclination toward services by phone. Tri-County Board Executive Director Terri Becker communicated to the provider agencies that, pending changes in Medicaid billing rules, the Board would use local mental health levy dollars within existing contracts to enable agencies to start providing services by phone as soon as they are ready to do so.

Persons wishing to contact the Board office are requested to call 937-335-7727 and press 7 for a staff directory. More resources and information can be found at the Board’s website www.tcbmds.org.