LISBON — While the Columbiana County Health Department has spent the year working toward keeping as many residents safe from the coronavirus as possible, the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board has been trying to make certain the pandemic does not harm more people mentally, including those who may not normally suffer from mental health issues.
While vaccinating people at the Columbiana County Vaccination Complex and at other partnering facilities throughout county, bags of supplies like thermometers and masks are being given away. Another item is a magnet, which has the message with all the confusion and anxiousness caused by the pandemic “It’s OK” with the additional information that it is okay even if you are not doing okay. The magnet includes telephone numbers to call for help — 211 for information and referrals, as well as the Ohio CareLine at 800-720-9616. Another suggestion is to text 4Hope to 741741 in order to be connected with a counselor.
Marcy Patton, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board for Columbiana County, said the board purchased the magnets and believed during the vaccinations may be a good time and place to get them handed out. The magnets are also available at the local hospitals and city health departments.
It is only one of the ways the Columbiana County Health Department and the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board have been working together to get county residents through the pandemic. It is a situation repeated across the state leading to the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA), which represents Ohio’s alcohol, drug addiction and mental health board, giving one of its annual awards, the 2020 President’s Partnering for Quality Award, to local health commissioners.
County Health Commissioner Wes Vins said mental health is a big piece of the COVID situation. Many people have found themselves isolated or under stress due to changing economic situations in their family. Additionally, more people than ever before may now have a better understanding of mental health difficulties, as well as that anxiousness can happen to everyone.
Patton added coronavirus had helped others to understand and taken away some of the stigma about mental health and the need to reach out to someone. Telehealth has made it easier to reach out for help.
Not unlike many people, Vins noted he personally misses things. He has been working even more days and hours than usual and even though he has not felt the pandemic economically, he personally has not been able to hug his mom in a year now.
“That’s just sad,” Vins said. “We’re just lucky to have these resources.”