Minnesota is looking to telehealth to support mental health during coronavirus quarantine

Keeping mentally healthy is a challenge and noble goal in these days of sheltering in place. Both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Post Bulletin (via Duluth News Tribune) are highlighting what people are doing to keep healthy around the state.

A Star Tribune article reports

As one way to adjust, Valkyrie started the Minnesota Mutual Support group on Facebook earlier this week to help people stay connected to resources and to each other. More than 600 have already joined.

“I don’t have access to my normal support,” Valkyrie said. “It’s been reaching out a lot online, to be honest, and helping others. And creating that group actually helps my mental health quite a bit.”

And more formal recommendations to find support online…

Mental health providers are also scrambling statewide to triage care and treatment for patients as the pandemic continues. They are directing patients to telehealth counseling and fielding calls from patients unsure if they should still go to therapy in person. Providers are working to keep their employees safe and reassured, but some have considered laying off staff they cannot afford to pay.

The coronavirus crisis has also put Minnesota’s shortage of mental health services on display. Even as providers urge clients to move to telehealth services, they acknowledge that not every household has internet, a computer or a smartphone. And a remote counseling session won’t necessarily have the same benefit as an in-person session for a patient.

Clinics are embracing technology to provide services…

One clinic has given laptops to clients for telehealth services. Another is working on YouTube videos to share with clients and staff on breathing and self-soothing resources. But all three said they continue to tell Minnesotans who need help the same thing: Keep calling

The Duluth New Tribune talks about what’s happening in Rochester (MN)…

On Thursday, March 18, Family Service Rochester announced the launch of new telehealth counseling services. The services are available for new and existing patients. Counseling sessions can be provided via internet connection on a smartphone, tablet or computer. The process, which is all completed from one’s home, starts with a phone call and completing a few online forms before the patient is scheduled to talk with a mental health professional.

And offers some pandemic mental health advice to tech users…

Stay connected but also disconnected, Sawchuk recommends. Staying connected to social support is incredibly helpful and therapeutic during difficult times, he said. With modern technology, it is easy to reach out to someone but it is important to make sure that those people you may be reaching out to bring you up, rather than down.

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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.