For immediate release: August 25, 2020
The social isolation and disruption of lives that have come with COVID-19 have impacts beyond medical, social, and financial. For some people, the strain reduces their ability to cope with life and can causes psychological crisis. Many coping mechanisms, such as time with friends and family, have become more difficult. On top of that, access to resources that might help people cope, such as therapists or the food bank, has been restricted.
Over the last five months, drug and alcohol use has been an increasing element of calls where people are reaching out for help. Calls for Community Crisis Response (CCR) have gone up five times. When law enforcement is called for a welfare check, the CCR therapist often responds as well. Some calls involve psychosis or other mental health crisis; some people need access to resources that can help them cope. Completed suicide rates haven’t risen, but suicide threats have sharply increased. Many of the calls come from friends, counselors, and social service providers who are worried about someone’s threats to kill themselves.
Law enforcement and mental health providers are working together to help people through this tough time. If you are worried about someone’s mental health, there are resources available, in addition to private therapists and Western Montana Mental Health Center.
In an emergency, you can call 911 and request a CIT-trained deputy or the Community Crisis Response therapist. If there isn’t an emergency yet, you can call 582-2100 and make the same requests.
– Sheriff Brian Gootkin