Businesses have been forced to serve customers in new ways. Schools are facing an uncertain future, trying to balance virtual and in-person learning. People are wearing masks and social distancing whenever possible – the new normal we are all facing across Ohio. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll, both physically and mentally.
“People have so many additional stressors, like working from home, parenting full time while trying to work full time or teaching children while trying to work,” said Wendy BeMiller, OhioGuidestone’s Regional Director of Central Ohio. “These are new for most and trying to balance all of these at once is stressful and exhausting.”
These factors, combined with the distance and isolation brought on by COVID-19, can be especially difficult for those struggling with mental health or substance use disorders. OhioGuidestone, understanding the importance of maintaining access to behavioral health care during this time, quickly pivoted at the onset of the pandemic to meet the needs of those we serve by expanding telehealth services across the state. To date, OhioGuidestone has provided more than 50,000 hours of telehealth services, with close to 10,000 hours in June alone!
Telehealth has helped clients to stay on the path to recovery. Tyliah Slappy, a single mother of three in the Columbus area, lost her job during the pandemic. Thanks to the virtual technology of telehealth, she remains connected to her support staff.
“It’s not only been helpful to keep me sober, but also to stay positive,” says Tyliah. “It is critical for my mental health priorities to remain in order, and to sustain a stable mindset. I take a breath, I realize my reality, and then
try to focus on what’s important because it’s easy to get off track and easy to get distracted.”
Tyliah’s journey hasn’t been easy, but she is not alone. The 24-year-old has made tremendous strides since beginning treatment with OhioGuidestone. This past May, she graduated from the Franklin County Domestic Relations Court’s Family Recovery program. The future of her family kept her focused.
“It made me more motivated in my recovery because I had my children waiting for me on the other side,” Tyliah said.
There are many people just like Tyliah who could easily relapse during this pandemic if not for the critical access to care made easily and conveniently available via telehealth.
“Since they don’t have to drive between sessions, clinicians are able to schedule appointments closer together and can often make arrangements for additional sessions if needed,” said BeMiller. “We have also found that telehealth is a valuable tool to use when running groups. Our clients are still able to interact with everyone in the group, while feeling safe in their home. This has helped them maintain their sobriety and focus on their recovery.”
Tyliah says remaining connected has made all the difference. “A big thanks to my treatment team for all of the awesome work that they are doing for my family. We remain socially distanced, but they are able to be a helping hand and make a difference in the community!”