Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Mental health providers and support services say more people are tapping into help as novel coronavirus skews everyday life. Some services are getting added, dropped or moved online to remain in reach through the global pandemic.

More people are working from home or told the presence of the virus called COVID-19 means they can’t work right now. Some feel isolated as the nation moves in a remote direction as health officials try to slow the spread of the new virus researchers are scrambling to understand.

Through the website Montana211.org, The Bozeman Help Center is keeping a tally of what resources are available to tend to mental wellbeing during this public health crisis.

While the center has stalled its walk-in hours due to the virus, it remains one of the organizations offering trained staff to answer the phone when people call 2-1-1 for support.

“People are stressed out from their work life changing, their home life changing and they’re looking for resources,” said Mandy St. Aubyn, the center’s development and communications coordinator. “Anyone can call 24 hours a day to receive information about community resources, if they’re in crisis, emotional distress or just need someone to talk to.”

Though 2-1-1 is a longstanding national helpline, St. Aubyn said people who call are connected to someone close to home.

Each person’s form of care is different. But St. Aubyn said there are some general practices people can follow to take care of themselves through this abnormal time.

A big piece of that is creating a routine, even as COVID-19 means less time with coworkers or friends.

“Make a goal to check in with at least one person a day,” St. Aubyn said. “Taking care of your physical health is important and figuring out what that looks like for you and what space allows. Go outside if you’re able to.”

Those with access to the internet can tap into free guided workouts or mediation on sites like Youtube.

The center also has a database of local therapists for those who aren’t yet plugged into counseling but want to be. She said people already in counseling can work with providers on how to still access that support.

“It’s easy when you feel like it’s crisis mode to want to cancel those appointments,” she said.

Mental health providers are figuring out how to offer remote treatment, something that’s not new in Montana.

Maya Howell is the behavioral health director at Community Health Partners, which offers care on a sliding scale based on income in Gallatin and Park counties. She said the clinic moved patients with underlying health issues to either phone or telehealth appointments and hopes to expand that to all counseling sessions by next week.

“We’re constantly looking for ways we can be available while not putting patients or staff at increased risk,” Howell said. “One thing that really warms my heart is financial compensation is not the first priority. If this is something the patient needs and we can’t bill for it, that’s fine.”

Tricia LeQuesne, a licensed counselor with private practice EcoTherapy Counseling in Bozeman, said this week she’s shifted her appointments to video conferences.

“It’s not always going to feel the same as face-to-face but we can still build that relationship,” LeQuesne said. “Ultimately we just need people to know that somebody is there for them through this.”

She said moves by insurers and federal programs like Medicaid to cover more telehealth services during COVID-19 has helped.

LeQuesne suggested those feeling additional anxiety these days can scale back how often they’re on social media and get information from select trusted sources.

People can also feel empowered by the fact there are steps they can take — like washing their hands and social distancing — to slow the spread of this disease.

“We’re all in this waiting moment to moment to see what’s coming next,” she said. “We can focus on our resilience instead of our trauma. Let’s look at the number of people that have survived this. It’s staggering.”

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.