Mental health important during COVID-19 outbreak

March 29, 2020

By: Joe Vacarelli

Originally appeared in The Sentinel

As health and government officials ask the public not to gather in groups larger than 10 people during the COVID-19 outbreak, several organizations dealing with mental health services have made adjustments, canceling group therapies.

But mental health services are still widely available throughout the Grand Valley and the state of Colorado. Providers also have advice on how to stay psychologically healthy during a stressful period.

Mind Springs Health, which serves multiple counties in western Colorado, including Mesa County where its West Springs Hospital is located, is seeing fewer patients come in for appointments due to social distancing. However, treatments over the phone and telehealth services are available.

Group therapy sessions are canceled, but all facilities remain open, according to Executive Vice President Michelle Hoy.

“Help is still here,” Hoy said. “We still have a team that can respond to anyone in crisis and the ability to serve people.”

Both Hoy and Mental Health Colorado President and CEO Vincent Atchity say they’ve seen an uptick in calls since the COVID-19 shutdowns started during the past week. They said there are local, state and national options to talk to someone. Atchity said a primary care doctor could also help answer some basic questions.

But for those who are worried during this time, Hoy said it’s important that people take care of themselves, eat well, connect with loved ones virtually or over the phone and limit time on social media or consuming news.

“Don’t dwell on the negative. Think about what’s going well,” she said. “This is a great time to look for some new opportunities.”

Atchity said that people should take time to get outside and, if they have children, take a cue from them on how they focus on what’s important in the moment.

He also echoed Hoy, saying that people should limit their news consumption to a portion of the day when they feel strongest rather than constantly check the news.

“It’s more information than a brain can be accountable for,” he said. “That’s what makes us anxious.”

Those involved with support group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, should also know that many of these groups have canceled meetings. Some online meetings and conference calls will be available, said one staff member, noting that 50% of all meetings have been canceled.

Those looking for help or more information on meetings can visit or