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Adding a pandemic to a crisis: mental and behavioral health services readjust to coronavirus

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Posted at 4:28 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 15:06:36-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “This is a difficult time for everybody, and for people who are already struggling this is especially hard.”

Horizon Health Services says its Telehealth model, that was already being rolled out in 2020, could not have come at a better time.

“We’ve added a pandemic to what was already a crisis situation that we were dealing with not only in our community, but across the country,” said CEO and President Anne Constantino.

COVID-19 has affected everyone in this country, and took a very tough toll on those already dealing with mental and behavioral health issues — numbers rose across the board.

“…On the substance abuse-side with opiate use, Fentanyl and the number of overdoses and deaths…and suicide attempts for people of all ages.”

Horizon Health treats mostly adolescents-adults for a range of diagnoses from postpartum depression to psychiatric needs, family and youth counseling to mental health disorders like depression and schizophrenia.

“Initially when our community was first affected and we did the stay-at-home order, we did see an increase in the number of incidents,” said Constantino. “People were overdosing… and unfortunately with an overdoes you will have some people that pass away.”

Horizon went through a series of approvals from New York State to use a digital platform, and now has a secure app it uses to track and execute appointments.

“All we’re going to ask of people is that they’re honest with themselves — even more than us. And let us help you try to figure out.. what are some options that you have?”

Most clients are self-referred or referred by family. If you or someone you know needs help call one of these numbers any time.

Erie County Crisis Services: 716-834-3131

Horizon Health Services: 716-831-1800