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Mental health providers reaching patients remotely amid COVID-19 outbreak


Michigan’s mental health community is facing some unique challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, and is making changes. Mental health care providers say isolation can be difficult for everyone, but especially for people with depression and other mental health issues.




Some mental health providers are providing telehealth – helping people over the phone and online.

Bob Sheehan is the CEO of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan. He said his staff still has to provide some in-person services.

“Some people, for whom the crisis is too immediate or too behaviorally challenged, telehealth doesn’t work, so we’re doing face-to-face there as well,” Sheehan says.

Sheehan said things like case management and paperwork are being done over the phone, but prescription drop offs and in-home visits are still done in person.

Sheehan said he's taking precautions to keep staff and patients safe during the pandemic. Those precautions include wearing personal protective gear like masks and gloves.

Lynne Doyle is with Community Mental Health of Ottawa County. She said her staff also has to provide some in-person services.

“But we’re really trying to limit those to the bare minimum, and when we’re doing that we’re making sure that our staff are using protective equipment to the best of their ability,” she says.