WTCSB still helping in crisis

Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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The Western Tidewater Community Services Board is continuing to provide its critical supports to some of the most at-risk people in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s doing that in a slightly different way, though, with more appointments being done by phone and video. It is also encouraging people who feel they are in need to call, even if they have never worked with the WTCSB before.

“The current concerns over COVID have increased anxiety and depression for many,” Director Demetrios Peratsakis wrote in an email on Tuesday. “Both children and adults are at increased risk.”

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WTCSB is the public behavioral healthcare department for the cities of Suffolk and Franklin and the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton. It provides counseling, psychiatry, care management and ongoing treatment supports to people with mental health or substance disorder problems and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It also works with people experiencing depression and anxiety, school and family related problems or work and life transition concerns.

“In addition to the primary health risks, the pandemic poses serious concerns for our mental health and sense of well-being,” Peratsakis wrote.

He said services can be provided by phone or video chat during this time. Many clients have already been doing so, he said.

“Counseling by Facetime, phone, Zoom or Skype is not new, and our community has been enjoying this way of working for several years,” Peratsakis wrote.

Of course, people with ongoing medication needs and those in residential service programs still receive face-to-face services, although with all the proper precautions followed.

Peratsakis emphasized that new clients who feel they are in need of mental health or addiction services during this time of high stress should call.

“I’d want our community to understand that it’s normal and appropriate to feel frightened,” Peratsakis said. “That it’s natural to worry about your own health and for the welfare of your family and friends. I’d especially want folks to know that we are in this together and that together we will get through this.”

For more information or to arrange to speak with a counselor, call 323-3805.