WICHITA, Kan.--- Fears and worries are running high; more so for some people who can’t make it to therapy sessions or interact with case managers out in public. But area psychiatrists want people to know help is still available. Mental health facilities are now resorting to teletherapy.
Doctor Luke Carter is the president of the Wichita Area Psychological Association and due to the stay-at-home order, he’s worried some patients won’t have access to the health care they need.
“Mental health is important," said Carter. "I don’t think it’s as good as it is in the office. I think a lot of people have been reluctant to try it, it’s been really mixed. There is a lot of uncertainty.”
Eric McDaniel at South Central Mental Health Clinic in Andover agrees with Dr. Carter that teletherapy is better than no therapy.
“Ending all of this, being in isolation, not having access to providers would just cause an exacerbation in those symptoms and it could set back a lot of progress that’s been made thus far for clients,” said McDaniel.
Carter said, “If they don’t have people looking in on them, they might just say, you know what, I haven’t had any psychosis for a week now so with all this craziness going on, I’m just going to go ahead and stop taking my anti-psychotics cause I’m going to stock up on toilet paper.”
Those people who check on the more severely ill patients are called case managers. They take those suffering from mental illness out into the community and make sure medications are being taken and meetings are being attended. But that’s not the case right now.
“They’ll go to their homes, pick them up, take them out to the community," said McDaniel. "Because of COVID-19, most of that has switched to over the phone for right now.”
Carter said, “There are no AA or NA meetings right now. So that’s a pretty significant deficit.
Dr. Carter and McDaniel admit not being able to see patients in person and read body language or eye contact makes their job a little harder but teletherapy prevents regression in patient progress.