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Coronavirus Pandemic: Mental Health Specialists Say Coloradans 'Really Looking For Support'

LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) - Colorado officials have many different ways they can help people who are struggling, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. That includes finding treatment centers or getting connected with the Colorado Crisis Line. The state's addiction and behavioral health facilities may not be able to hold meetings in-person, but they're helping more people than before because of a new way of life for many people in isolation.

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"I think it's been a challenge to see how do we meet the needs of people that we treat," said Cody Gardner, the founder of The Redpoint Center in Longmont. "Now that we're able to provide these telehealth services, we've actually seen an uptick in the number of clients attending groups, attending their individual sessions. I also think people are really looking for support right now."

Normally The Redpoint Center hosts three-hour group meetings twice a day at its office. Now those are taking place online, which comes with its challenges.

"Groups provide an opportunity for people to work with their peers, and to receive feedback and talk about what's going on in their lives and learn new skills. We know that coming together as a group, although it can be uncomfortable, can bring them back into the community, to bring them back into society and build the tools they need to stay sober," Gardner said.

In the two years the center has been open, it has already helped 300 people with everything from addiction to drugs or alcohol to depression and anxiety.

"(Coloradans) are really looking for a place to talk about the anxiety they feel and the uncertainty of the future. How do I not use these drugs and alcohol today? What are the practical things I can do like get out of the house, talk to somebody who knows what's going on in my life, doing therapy? These are fundamental for just staying sober today," Gardner said.

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"I'd just be sitting at home. I can't go to AA meetings because those are all canceled, too. So being able to talk to a therapist, and my peers in a video chat setting, it's super beneficial," said a patient named Andy, who started getting help at The Redpoint Center almost a year ago.

Andy says he and others recovering from addiction are really battling through the challenge of the stay-at-home guidelines that have come with the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado, but the virtual group meetings are helping.

"The hardest part is boredom and not knowing what to do with yourself. And being quarantined at home, that's what a lot of alcoholics and drug addicts do anyway, is just use and drink at home," he said. "They teach us here that the opposite of addiction is connection and a part of that, if we can't meet in person, it's video chat online and I think it's super beneficial."

Gardner is hoping people will take this time in and get help.

"They're seeking out support, they know something is going on and they're struggling with anxiety every day. Talk to somebody, find somebody that you can talk to, that you can get support from. Nobody knows what is going to come next and we all need to step up and support each other," he said.

LINK: COVID-19 & Behavioral Health | Colorado Ladders

More resources:
An anonymous way for students, parents, school staff and community members to report concerns regarding their safety or the safety of others

The Trevor Project
Crisis prevention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals

Mobile Crisis Services, Denver Health
24/7 service that provides mental health support to residents of the city and county of Denver and to Mental Health Center of Denver consumers during and after a crisis 

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