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Crisis on the Horizon: Mental Health and Substance Abuse

We are on a cliffs-edge in regards to San Diego County resident’s building mental health and substance abuse issues we are going to face. People already getting treatment and services before Covid-19, then suddenly stopping or drastically reducing receiving those services, will be an important cohort to regain.

The Covid-19 pandemic itself is wreaking havoc on people’s anxiety levels leading to all kinds of negative outcomes. We are also going to face not only the people with the behavioral health condition but, also those they have harmed during this extraordinary period.

These charts offer a snapshot of the number of clients we have engaged with, and by what mode – face-to-face, telehealth, telephone, or other means – from the period January 1 through May 3, 2020.

Charts represent various San Diego County Behavioral Health Services (BHS) utilization rates of mental health services (MHS) and substance use disorder services (SUD) during Covid-19 Pandemic. Tables created May 28, 2020. Presented at June 4, 2020 BHAB meeting.

We have more recently learned from our last BHAB meeting of July 2, 2020 that there are extraordinary levels of increased anxiety, and that people in lower-income and minority populations are the most negatively affected. We were provided anecdotal data at the meeting from the director.

From all I gather, over the next months and years we are going to be dealing with a growing level of negative mental health and substance abuse issues at much higher rates, and affecting far more people, than we have seen in our lifetimes.

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