Social distancing, anxiety, and co-occurring disorders that raise the risk of COVID-19 infection can all exacerbate behavioral health symptoms. Behavioral health clinicians should be aware of these potential issues and help guide their staff and clients through this uncertain time.
Physical concerns for behavioral health clients during the coronavirus outbreak
Many behavioral health or addiction treatment clients have chronic conditions that may increase their vulnerability to COVID-19 infection. These may include:
Asthma or other chronic respiratory issue
Congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease
Cirrhosis of the liver
Weakened immune system
Behavioral health professionals can help such clients in numerous ways.
Discuss appropriate cleanliness and infection control measures that help reduce exposure.
Keep up with information from national and global health and science leaders, so you are prepared to address your clients’ questions and concerns.
Maintain collaboration with your clients’ other care teams.
Monitor clients for new or worsening symptoms.
Emphasize that any clients who feel unwell should stay home and reschedule any office appointments.
Conduct appointments through telehealth to avoid potential COVID-19 exposure.
Behavioral health effects of coronavirus
Many of the responses to the coronavirus outbreak, such as social distancing, can help the spread of COVID-19. However, they may trigger or worsen many behavioral health symptoms. Your clients may struggle with:
Fears of exposure to the coronavirus
Fears of shortages of food and medicine
Concern for loved ones who may be ill or at risk
Depression or loneliness from social isolation
Anxieties related to financial difficulties and job loss, especially for individuals working in businesses that have closed during the outbreak
Stress due to routine disruptions, including telecommuting or children being home from school
Mistrust of news sources or other authorities
Strained relationships in the same household from extended close contact
These struggles can create stress that compromises mental and physical health. Behavioral health and addiction treatment professionals should be aware of the potential triggers for behavioral health conditions, including:
Anxiety or OCD
Phobias, including fears of public spaces or hospitals
Substance misuse and addiction
Psychosis or delusions
Depression or bipolar disorder
How behavioral health providers can help
Behavioral health clinicians can be an important source of information and reassurance for clients and their families. Speak to clients from an attitude of calm, empathy, and authority.
Clinicians can also encourage their clients to follow healthy physical and mental habits:
Limit time spent reading or watching news or using social media
Stay connected with family, friends, and colleagues even without close physical proximity: phone calls, texting, sending greeting cards, and instant messaging.
Make sure to get physical exercise and proper diet
Meditation, deep breathing, and stretching exercises
Keeping to their usual routine as much as possible
Uncertainty can be stressful for clinicians, staff, and their clients. Continuing to follow healthy habits and recommended cleanliness practices not only can help reduce the spread of infection, but may help limit stress during the duration of the outbreak.
Using appropriate behavioral health tools
Like other healthcare providers, behavioral health clinicians may struggle to manage their staff and clients during the COVID-19 outbreak. BestNotes EHR has a variety of tools that can help you manage your client load and keep your practice running smoothly in uncertain times. Contact our team today to learn more.