When the global pandemic first surfaced earlier this year, Heart of Kansas Family Health Care staff noticed a bit of an increase in behavioral-health services, said Carie Brown, director of behavioral health.
That increase has maintained a steady upward pace during recent months.
“We are seeing a lot of patients who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 due to the illness itself or other effects,” Brown said. “These effects include smaller or no paychecks, and social isolation.
“Patients are reporting depression and anxiety that normal coping skills have been unable to manage,” she continued. “Some are dealing with the added stress of schools being closed for this extended period of time. This can create significant distress.”
Behavioral health focuses on emotional and mental-health needs, Brown summarized. “Just like our medical health, behavioral health is very important to an individual’s overall well-being.
“Life can be stressful,” she added. “Too many times we set our mental health aside, which can impact our physical health. Professionals are just a phone call away.”
Heart of Kansas offers behavioral and many other health services in-person and via telemedicine. Various telemedicine formats are used to accommodate individual needs; staff members guide patients on the easy-to-use formats.
“With our expanded options for telehealth, attending an appointment is easier and more confidential than ever,” Brown commented.
The behavioral health director offered a few tips for those battling depression and anxiety.
These include: maintaining a support system through social-distancing means; engaging in physical exercise to maintain a healthy balance; and keeping a journal about concerns and gratitude.
“And if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by news coverage of the pandemic, limit your viewing to maybe just once a day,” Brown advised.
All Heart of Kansas healthcare providers are well-trained and experienced in helping people with behavioral needs, Brown noted. “Since we have offices in Great Bend, Larned and Stafford, our patients have easy access to these services.”
The three clinics are located at 1905 19th, Great Bend; 522 Broadway, Larned; and 412 Grand Ave., Stafford.
Heart of Kansas Family Health Care is a Federally Qualified Health Center, which allows it to be a safety net for patients who are uninsured or under-insured. Its professional providers also welcome those with insurance at the Great Bend, Larned and Stafford locations. Heart of Kansas is open to everyone.