SSV: Behavioral Health Services During COVID-19

Rebecca Kendall (left), Lisa Beitz and Jeff Gould speaking via Zoom.

Lisa Beitz and Rebecca Kendall spoke at the April 14th meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia about behavioral health treatment services in the time of COVID.

Rebecca Kendall is the director of the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition which collaborates with providers through planning, advocacy and delivery of effective services to promote behavioral health and wellness. She shared that all their services have been affected by COVID. Problems include effects of social isolation, food insecurity, unemployment and school closings. Some of the consequences have been increased alcohol consumption, increases in requests for services and overdoses seen in ERs. On the positive side the increase in Zoom telehealth services, where available, has been very fruitful. Two new services have been developed: Warmline, to help people who are stressed and to connect them to local care and a free service for essential workers.

Lisa Beitz is the executive director of the Region Ten Community Services Board which is required by law to be available 24/7 to assess people for involuntary hospitalization and case management assessment for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health disorders as funds allow. Region Ten serves the City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson, and is involved in over 40 programs and has more than 550 staff. Local trends exacerbated by COVID include lack of psychiatric hospital beds and closing of resources that keep individuals safe in the community leading to more hospitalizations.

The two spoke at the Wednesday April 14, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV President Jeff Gould.