Between social isolation, financial difficulties, anxieties about the virus, and overall disruptions to normal life, the varying responses to the COVID-19 public health emergency have taken a significant toll on families. Behavioral health providers are uniquely positioned to help individuals and families recover from the mental health impact.
Here’s how behavioral health providers can support families and children during a difficult time
1. Look for evidence-based guidance.
When it comes to supporting families during difficult times, guidance from trusted sources can help point behavioral health providers in the right direction. Look for behavioral health-related trade and advocacy associations in your state and communities, such as the National Council for Behavioral Health, and any best practices or guidance they have issued.
You can also consider guidance for other specialties. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) earlier this year issued guidance for evaluating and supporting children, adolescents, and families struggling with behavioral health during COVID-19. This includes watching for reactions to stress, such as sleep and feeding disruptions, withdrawing, or expressions of fearfulness. Providers should also be aware of social health factors, such as food or housing insecurity.
2. Provide education to parents
Behavioral health providers also can support families by providing information and education, which may or may not be based on the previously mentioned guidance. Behavioral health providers can help parents and guardians identify signs of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns in their children of all ages. They can also advise families on appropriate stress management and self-care.
3. Connect behavioral health clients to community resources
Besides providing care and education, behavioral health providers can help direct clients and their families to additional, appropriate resources. This may include connecting clients to services that provide financial, housing, or food assistance, or physical healthcare. Get familiar with state and local resources that can provide additional support to your clients and their children and families.
4. Expand your treatment options, clinical knowledge, and services
As a behavioral health provider, you may want to consider expanding your training and education to be able to offer additional types of therapy to clients and families in need. For example, functional family therapy (FFT) is a type of short-term intervention that uses the whole family to help address adolescent behavior problems. Other options include virtual continuing education opportunities and online training sessions that may be available to you.
Even if you do not necessarily expand your current services, you may want to look at new ways to deliver them. For example, telehealth can help you provide more flexible hours, allowing you and your clients to attend therapy sessions from anywhere within your state. This can also help reduce no-shows and limit your and your clients’ potential exposure to illness. Providing online assessments can also help clients and their families get the type of therapy they need in a way that may feel less intimidating.
Challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting increased demand for services have created many opportunities for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers. The right clinical tools are critical for helping you and your staff continue to serve clients and their families during a difficult time. BestNotes EHR solutions offer easy implementation and thorough technical support, with features such as telehealth and online assessments so you can continue to work at your best. Contact us to learn more.