Powerful messaging and good commonsense advice from the Director of the MHA of Dutchess County, Andrew O’Grady.  The MHAs and many of our colleagues across the State are among the true heroes in the fight against Covid–19

It feels as if everyone has settled into this new normal. While we have settled in and have been complying with all the new rules and requirements there is a sense of angst about wanting things to go back to normal.  We can certainly rattle off all the negatives about this time and some of those negatives are truly horrible, they may involve loss and fear of loss. However, most of the negatives are just changes that we have to adjust to.

There are positives in what we are experiencing;

·        Time allows us to take more walks and actually see the things around us. There’s a sense of freedom being outside and seeing our neighbors although from a distance waving and smiling.  Fresh air is good for the mind and soul.

·        There are things that can be accomplished in the home that haven’t been accomplished in a long time. Organizing drawers in the house, cleaning out closets.  If you identify things you no longer need you can make donations to agencies like this one that can pass along your possessions to people who need them.

·        Taking on bigger projects then the ones above, maybe cleaning out your garage or building shelves.  Maybe a larger project you might want to do outside. Try to include everybody in the household in the projects. Make it a family project that brings the family closer.

·        Assign making dinner to a different member of the family each night, so that they can put their own twist of the meals that are served. Working together to clean up after a meal instead of everybody scattering to different parts of the house and not wanting to help.

How do we handle the isolation that we feel when we’re not surrounded by family? Most people are using some type of FaceTime or app that allows real time video communication. Hopefully we are trying to give everyone in our family that ability. There are many people that we know and love who are living in nursing homes or community residences. Hopefully they have the ability to communicate with their loved ones because at this time they are extremely isolated.

The single most prevalent reason for depression is isolation. This isolation is so concerning to me, as a mental health provider, during this pandemic. We are seeing it often in the veteran population but throughout all the programs that we have at MHA. We at MHA of Dutchess County are doing our very best to assure that people are not emotionally distanced from others. We are reaching out the best we can to our clients. We are using telephone and video conferencing. But it is not the same as being in a room and physically being near somebody. This is where we hope that family members can step up and be available to their isolated family members. So, if you have an uncle, aunt or any relative or an old friend that you know is struggling, and is possibly very lonely, please reach out and give them a call. You may just save a life.

We are seeing an increased number of people who are struggling with remaining calm and managing their frustrations and emotions. There has been an uptick in domestic violence, anger, and suicide. We as an agency, have been dealing with many people struggling, wanting to end their lives. Each day we are on the phone or making visits to people in crisis.  If they need to be seen we visit them in the community through our care managers and other MHA programs, as we try desperately to fill the gaps left by restrictions related to the pandemic.

This pandemic certainly highlights the need for easy access to mental health care.  If anybody reading this has ever tried to access mental health care for themselves or a family member, you know it is a very complicated system to try to access.  If you are trying to access care, please call us at 473-2500 and we will be happy to try to access that care for you or put you in the right direction.

One tip that I share with people all the time is call the phone number on your insurance card and ask them to send you a list of providers that accept your insurance in your area. You can then call MHA at 473-2500 and we will take a look at that list and try to identify which of the providers might be the best fit for you.

As it relates to opening up this country for business, it may be a while longer than people are hoping for. Perhaps we open in a way that still forces everyone to social distance and everyone wears a mask, but our numbers of infection will gradually increase at that point. I’m not sure exactly what it will take, short of a vaccine, to get us to return to the lifestyle that we have all been used to. No matter what adjustments we need to make, we are an amazing group of people and we will make it work.  We will make it work so that people feel that they are connected to one another and that the economy can be resurrected, allowing for businesses to thrive and people to remain both physically and emotionally healthy.

Until that time, we will continue to do what we’re doing, staying vigilant and protecting ourselves. We will continue to support local businesses to the best of our ability. We will continue to strengthen our families and realize how lucky we are to be part of this great country.  I hope you are all safe and staying positive.

Andrew O’Grady, LCSW-R
CEO, Mental Health America of Dutchess County

Mental Health America of Dutchess County
253 Mansion Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
United States

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