A Letter to Our Partners
Whether you are someone who receives DBHDD services, a family member, a provider, an advocate, a DBHDD team member, an elected official, or just getting to know us, I want to thank you for your support of our work and the people we serve. I also want to thank you for taking the time to read this edition of our newsletter, which offers updates as well as messages of optimism and hope.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all made rapid adjustments. At DBHDD, our first priority is the health and safety of the people we serve, our staff, and our providers. We have changed the way we do business, but our core function remains the same: we are an organization of people serving people. We know that the safety net must continue to work. Hundreds of thousands of Georgians are counting on us even – and especially – in this time of global crisis. I want to extend a special note of gratitude to our heroes on the frontlines of the pandemic in DBHDD hospitals and our provider network, who continue to provide direct care amid the pandemic.
May is Mental Health Month, which is always a very busy time at DBHDD and across our provider network. Though many of our typical activities look different right now, one thing has not changed: my belief in the people we serve, our work, and our future.
In the last decade, we have received so much support from Georgia’s leaders and seen a growing public interest, but now – through this pandemic and the disruption it has caused – mental health has become personal for millions of people.
As our state’s public safety net, we provide services to vulnerable Georgians. But as the mental health authority, we have the opportunity to be a resource for all Georgians who are struggling to make sense of the world. Specifically, DBHDD began offering two new resources to help people cope during the pandemic:
- COVID-19 Emotional Support Line: This free, 24/7 hotline provides confidential assistance to callers needing emotional support or information about resources. The line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and others who have received training in crisis counseling and is a partnership of DBHDD, Beacon Health Options, and Behavioral Health Link. Call 866.399.8938.
- 2x2: Daily Self-Care Tips and Support: Originally created to support frontline workers in the Georgia Department of Public Health and first responders, this daily webinar series mental health tips about managing stress, grief, work/life balance, and wellness is now open to anyone. Visit https://dbhdd.georgia.gov/2x2-series to register for an upcoming session or view archived sessions.
Mental health and self-care are always important, but they become more so during a crisis. The adjustments Georgians have made have real effects on their mental health. We know that social distancing is a necessary and lifesaving measure we all must take to slow the spread of COVID-19, but we cannot ignore our mental health in the process.
We are learning that social distancing does not mean social isolation. There are many ways that you can connect while maintaining safe practices. Talk to family and friends by phone, text, social media, video chats, and even healthy one-on-one interactions maintaining six feet of separation from anyone who does not live in your home. In addition to those in your close network, use this time to reach out to friends and family you have not talked to in a while, especially older relatives or those who live alone. You may be a valuable lifeline to someone who needs you.
As important as it is to be a resource to others, let people in your social network know when you need help, and accept help when it is offered. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, substance misuse, or other risky behaviors, please seek professional help. In a behavioral health crisis, call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) at 800-715-4225. Caring professionals are available to help 24/7. Youth and teens can also text or chat with GCAL via the MyGCAL app (available in the App Store and on Google Play).
I encourage all of you to remain vigilant for your own health and safety and that of those around you. Our commitment and expertise are going to be vital to the wellness of Georgians in the coming months. In addition, our resilience, our passion, and our optimism about the future will be important assets in the state’s pathway forward. Working together, we will see our way through this pandemic.