The more life amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic strays from normal, the more behavioral and mental health becomes threatened.
“We are in an ever-changing world probably by the minute now,” said Dr. Daniel Jones, a clinical psychologist with The Wellness Place in Kuttawa. “All these changes are stressful.”
The sheltering and social distancing that have become hallmarks of the COVID-19 crisis may be preserving the physical health of Americans, but isolation, an ever-present threat and economic concerns can lead to an erosion of the mental health of people heeding government restrictions.
Gov. Andy Beshear, who has led Kentuckians through the changes, is advising people of the commonwealth to be wary of their mental health. While he has encouraged them to turn to reliable sources for news, he has also asked them to “turn if off” in order to escape the current cloud over life amid the pandemic. And Beshear is encouraging physical exercise in a responsible manner that respects social distancing
But all of the precautions in the world may not be enough to escape the anxiety and depression that can creep in for some amid the crisis. Even a change to routine can upset the emotional well-being of some.
Jones said school-age children and the elderly may be most susceptible amid the current climate. Students used to socialization with scores of fellow youth are now stuck at home with minimal outside contact. And seniors, the general population most at risk of complications from coronavirus, have been homebound and feeling unsafe to shop for necessities. Even parents now home from work and watching over their children’s virtual schooling from the living room are also in unfamiliar territory and may be feeling stressed.
Last week’s diagnosis of a Lyon County resident with coronavirus and subsequent identification of cases in nearby McCracken, Calloway and Christian counties has put some on heightened anxiety, the psychologist said.
“Since then, I think there has been an increased awareness and stress, even in surrounding counties,” Jones said of the March 17 Lyon County diagnosis. “I think we are going to be dealing with things I cannot even think of at this point.”
The Kuttawa clinic, established in 2012, is still relatively unknown, he said, despite having served more than 2,000 clients from all across the area in that eight years. Specializing in behavioral health issues, The Wellness Place stands ready to address any growing need for its services. Jones said they can serve clients remotely through telehealth or meet face-to-face with prior arrangements.
“All intake forms were digitized just last week,” Jones said last Thursday. “But we are available in person with health screenings at the door.”
Digital forms can be sent out electronically or found online at WellnessPlaceKy.com. Jones suggests people who think they may need the services of the clinic should call ahead at 270-601-4235 to ensure openings are available.
Feelings of irritability, depression, anxiety or interpersonal problems are tell-tale signs of a problem arising, Jones warns.
“If that irritability is getting up, a person is stressed out or has personal problems at any level, it’s time to work on that,” he said. “We can help them deal with stressors when they are small, and hopefully, they won’t get big.”
The Wellness Place can serve just about anyone, and even offers targeted treatment plans for people with serious illnesses. It offers a sliding-scale services rate and accepts most insurances, Medicaid and Medicare.
Jones also notes an emergency number for clients who might need services outside of business hours — 270-601-1575.
If someone is suicidal or a danger to others, call 911, he said.
Pennyroyal Center’s suicide hotline is 877-473-7766. Four Rivers Behavioral Health’s crisis line number is 800-592-3980.