Economic woes, isolation, grief over lost loved ones and general anxiety about the pandemic has Marylanders reporting high levels of depression, and experts want people in distress to know they can help.
Dr. Aliya Jones, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and head of the Behavioral Health Administration, said federal surveys show about one in three people in the state feel anxiety or depression over COVID-19. Some mental health professionals and physicians are bracing for an increase in suicides, overdoses and higher levels of substance abuse.
Jones has a message for people who are suffering: “This will not last forever. If you are struggling, know you are not alone. Practice self kindness and know the help is available.”
Here are four places to start:
- MD Mind Health is a texting service that helps combat social isolation by offering tips for mental wellness, including encouragement for self-care, recommendations for podcasts and apps and where to find resources. Sign up for two messages a week by texting 898-211.
- The “Here2Help” crisis hotline is 410-433-5175. It is a free, confidential service for people who need to talk, including those who are having thoughts about hurting themselves or someone else. The organization can send a mobile crisis unit for people in desperate situations. The counselors also can help arrange inpatient care or walk a caller through a plan to cope with their feelings.
- A network of providers is available, including for people who struggle with substance abuse or addiction, said Adrienne Breidenstine, a vice president at Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore. A searchable database of providers is available at baltimorecity.md.networkofcare.org.
- Sheppard Pratt Health Systems launched a virtual crisis walk-in clinic, said Dr. Deepak Prabhakar, medical director of outpatient services. The clinic has served thousands of people in the months during the pandemic, providing online mental health assessments and referrals for treatment options. Therapists and clinicians will follow-up with people seeking treatment for subsequent sessions, medication management or inpatient admission. The virtual clinic — which is in addition to Sheppard Pratt’s in-person Crisis Walk-In Clinic — is open to anyone living in Maryland who is in need of urgent psychiatric care. Appointments can be made online or over the phone.