Mental health crisis 911 calls go up as coronavirus isolation continues


CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Local police say they’ve seen an unusual upswing in 911 calls for help with mental crisis. While nearly all other calls, such as those for crime, are down, Lt. Bob Winn of Colonie PD says in their area alone, mental health calls are up around 14 percent.

“It seems almost disproportionate. Because everything else is down, it seems like that’s all we’re dealing with. So we are getting those calls on a very regular basis, and it definitely is making us a little bit more sensitive to it,” Lt. Winn explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

Lt. Winn says the calls often come from the person themselves or a family member or friend concerned over a variety of situations.

“Overdoses, people that have intentionally overdosed, or attempted to commit suicide. People that are in mental health crisis that are just unable to deal with the stresses of the day, which are now added upon by the isolation as well as the just dauntingness of the unknown now with the crisis,” he says.

Celine Katz, a mental health counselor with Northeast Psychological Associates, agrees intense isolation can be damaging to a person’s sense of self.

“This can really lead to dangerous behaviors, at times, because it causes people to feel more hopeless or more out of control of themselves, more than normal,” she explains.

However, Katz says she has seen in some of her clients, a benefit to more time alone.

“It is allowing some people to be more mindful of their habits and their triggers, and as a result, it is opening up more opportunity for them to focus on ways they can challenge their obstacles,” Katz says.

She adds the key can be keeping in contact with supportive friends and family and being mindful of giving yourself a break when you need one.

“Your home right now is your workplace, whereas before, your workplace was where you worked, and then you come home and you can relax and decompress. That’s not really the case now. So we have to be thinking of how we can get a little bit more creative with how we spend our time,” she says.

Katz says actions as easy as reading or writing outside, or taking a walk with a friend – maintaining social distance – can mean all the difference in lowering dangerous stress. Lt. Winn too says his officers are ready to respond whenever someone needs them.

“Our officers have undergone additional training to be able to assist those in crisis where they can on the street, and should the situation be outside their purview, we can have the mobile crisis team from Albany Med come and evaluate if that person needs to see a doctor,” Lt. Winn explains.

“Hopefully we’re closer to the end of this crisis than the beginning. We’re all in this together and we’ll come out the other end of it if we can rely on each other,” he concludes.

Click here for resources through the National Institute of Mental Health.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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