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Missing: People Seeking Help for Mental Health, Addiction During COVID-19

April 22, 2020

The numbers of people seeking help for behavioral health and substance abuse issues aren’t jibing for Dr. J. Craig Allen, vice president of addiction services for Hartford HealthCare.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads into its second month in Connecticut, sales of alcohol, cigarettes and vaping substances have increased, but the number of people seeking help for addiction or mental health concerns has dropped significantly.

“In the best of times, this (situation) would wreak havoc for people with substance abuse disorder or mental health concerns,” Dr. Allen said, referring to the anxiety and fears brought on by the pandemic and the isolation that results from related social distancing and stay-at-home requirements. “I’m particularly concerned for people.”

He surmised that people are not reaching out for the help they need because they are either afraid to contract COVID-19 by going into a healthcare facility for an appointment or they do not know that Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network is still providing care.

“We are open,” Dr. Allen said. “We can provide virtual assessments by telehealth or on the phone (for people who do not have video conferencing capabilities). We can see some people if needed, in the safest possible way. In times where there is so much stress – concerns about health, finances, changes in schedules, you usually would see an increase in the number of people being seen.”

He added that he is concerned that people who should be receiving care are “hidden behind anxiety and fear” they have about the virus itself.

“I’m very uncomfortable,” he said. “I don’t think people are cured.”

The Behavioral Health Network created a Warmline answered by recovery support specialists that he urged people to call if they’re experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues.

“We can set up telehealth appointments for either and can start or continue people on medications,” he said of the service.

For help, new or existing Behavioral Health Network patients can call the Warmline at 888.984.2408. Someone will return your call.

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

Need to see your doctor? New Patient? For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

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