Mental health in the time of coronavirus pandemic

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, April 2, 2020

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“The novelty of this pandemic is wearing off and the reality that this is a long term response to a worldwide public health emergency has set in. The continued guidance of staying at home as much as possible, limiting direct contact, other than to family members, and maintaining social distancing are the most effective measures to help us reduce the spread of COVID-19. And while these measures are effective, they are also very taxing on you, your children and families and the community. We recognize these unprecedented times create stress, anxiety, fear, frustration and financial hardship for many.”

– Sheila Davies, director of Health and Human Services for Dare, in a March 26, 2020 video.

Folks are worried – especially now – about the future, children, jobs, finances and getting sick. As a result, more people may need to reach out for mental health services.

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PORT Health is a local provider of mental health services and substance use disorder treatment and may be reached at 252-441-2324.

Trillium Health Resources is the local management entity/managed care organization that provides mental health, intellectual and developmental disability and substance use services to 26 counties in eastern North Carolina, including Dare County. Trillium’s Care Line at 877-685-2415 can connect someone to a provider that is nearest.

Last year, Trillium served 1,044 people in Dare County, addressing mental health issues for 757 people and substance use problems for 292 individuals. The agency provided services for 102 individuals with intellectual or development disabilities.

Figures were provided by Dave Peterson, Trillium’s central regional director, at the March 16 meeting of the Dare County Board of Commissioners.

PORT offers services in two locations in Dare County. The original office is located at 2808 S. Croatan Hwy., Suite B in Nags Head. The second location is in the Hatteras Village Medical Clinic, 57635 N.C. 12 in Hatteras. The Hatteras office has been open since January 2019. Some 115 people used the services at the new operation in 2019. Services were offered twice a week.

In typical times, individual and group counseling is delivered in person or by telemedicine.

Now, Michelle Hawbaker, PORT program supervisor in Dare County, reports that clients are offered telephone appointments and virtual online groups. The Hatteras village location is temporarily closed.

Overall, the future delivery of Trillium services is planned to change.

A Medicaid transformation was underway in 2019. The standard plan was to transfer to five insurance companies managing care for mild to moderate behavioral health recipients, but on Nov. 20, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services suspended the implementation of the standard plan. Trillium is proceeding with developing a tailored plan to treat both behavioral and physical health of clients.

In 2019, Trillium Health Resources served almost 57,000 individuals with mild to severe behavioral health needs with 71% with mental health needs, 19.3% with substance use disorder and 9.3% intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The agency spent $475,921,857 delivering services.



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