HAMPTON, Va. — Coronavirus may cause stress, fear and anxiety for some people, but it's even more serious for those suffering from mental illness.
Joy Cipriano, director of property and resource development for the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board, said her organization supports people affected by mental illness, substance abuse and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"If we look at ourselves and figure out how anxious we are, just add the stresses and the anxiety of somebody who has that serious behavioral health disorder,” Cipriano said.
According to Cipriano, the board has had to get creative in order to stay in touch with its program participants.
“It really is more of an increase in using the technology we have at hand-- trying to do more with telemedicine when that's possible,” Cipriano said.
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Staff members are also still answering emergency calls around the clock, holding remote sessions or in-person visits in some cases, and providing a place for people in crisis to stay.
“Whether it's to get somebody off the street and into a temporary place, or if they're in a household situation where someone may have been exposed to COVID -- to get them into some place temporary to self-isolate when they can't afford that,” Cipriano explained.
Still, it’s impossible to continue some of the board’s services, like its day programs. Meanwhile, requests for help are on the rise.
“We were approved to use some additional funds for these emergencies,” said Cipriano, “and within two days, I have over 30 requests sitting on my desk.”
Cipriano said the board is now depending on the community to give, so programs crucial to the people it serves can continue.
“We're adjusting to meet these behavioral health needs, the anxiety needs that are coming because of this,” Cipriano said. "And we're just gonna keep on growing and providing those services and programs that our communities tell us that they want and need.”
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