Accessing Mental Health During COVID-19

Recently, Family Service of Rhode Island’s Be Well campaign has received Rhode Island Foundation’s Behavioral Health Award to expand and maintain the current program. The $165k award is a huge accomplishment for the program and will be used to expand the mental health resources and counselling offered through Be Well.

Be Well works to provide accessible mental health care to Rhode Islanders during the stressful era of COVID-19. Through telehealth appointments, FSRI offers counseling from trained clinicians as a response to the increase of traumatic stressors from the pandemic. By offering accessible care and information, the Be Well program creates a safe environment for anyone seeking out help. Through the RIF award, Be Well can expand its supporting staff and technology to increase accessibility.

Kayla David, a clinical director at FSRI, oversees Be Well. During the creation and development of Be Well, she noted how COVID-19 has completely changed the way mental health care is provided and the many barriers to pre-pandemic counseling that aren’t usually seen. The cost of transportation, childcare, irregular scheduling, and more obstacles that can be amended through telehealth technology.

Kayla asked, “How do we do our work differently and how do we serve the communities?” when making drastic changes to conducting mental health treatment at the beginning of Be Well. To serve Rhode Island communities, Be Well regularly looks internally to highlight disparities within accessibility. Alongside the stressors of COVID-19, there is the intergenerational trauma stemming from the large amounts of social unrest. Oppression in any form takes a large mental toll, and Be Well acknowledges the importance of trauma-informed care. The campaign aims to create an inclusive, accessible environment by listening to community voices and highlighting the need for intersectional social justice. Addressing and healing intergenerational trauma for marginalized communities within Rhode Island is a priority for the Be Well program.

Over the past months of self-isolation, the general population has seen an increase in traumatic stressors leading to rises in depression, anxiety, sleep distress, and other mental health issues.