Mental Health Remains an Issue in Oswego County – Oswego County Business Magazine
Drugs and the pandemic have created more challenges recently
By Steve Yablonski
Mental health is an issue, according to Jiancheng Huang, director of public health for Oswego County.
“Yeah, that’s a big concern,” he said. “But it has many facets.”
Among those facets in Oswego County are suicides, substance abuse, child neglect and abuse, domestic violence and a shortage of mental health professionals, Huang said.
“More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation,” he added.
Physician Omar Colon, who oversees mental health and behavioral health services for Oswego Health, agreed with that assessment. “Mental health has been an issue in Oswego County for many years. It has recently worsened due to the pandemic. Our numbers have gone up.
Oswego Health operates a 32-bed inpatient unit and associated outpatient behavioral health clinic facilities at the Lakeview Center for Mental Health on East Cayuga Street, Oswego.
Emergency department numbers have skyrocketed, even for children, he said.
“It is imperative that we address mental health issues,” he said. “It’s really frustrating. the last two years have been really difficult.
Opioids are an epidemic
“Drugs have been a problem in our area; opioids, molly and marijuana as well. A lot of drugs have infected our community, from adults to children,” Colon said. “It’s really difficult.”
They meet a lot of people who end up in the hospital because of psychotic attacks or overdoses, he said.
“It’s not uncommon to see a comorbidity of mental health and substance use disorders,” said Eric A. Bresee, executive director of Farnham Family Services. “Historically, 60% to 70% of people receiving treatment at Farnham have a dual diagnosis indicating both mental health and substance use disorders.”
“It’s really hard to say; we try to provide services as much as we can,” Colon said. “When the pandemic hit it exacerbated the number of patients who were getting sick and it also limited the number of services we can provide. I think the best way to manage all of this is to work with different programs, making sure we all have access to information.
Mental illness can manifest in many ways, Colon noted.
It can be the absence of people around us to support us, pressures in different ways, such as the loss of a family member, the loss of a job or medical problems.
“So a lot of things can be factors to start causing us to develop mental illness. When we develop a mental illness, it can manifest in many ways,” he said. “People can start feeling depressed or depressed. They may not be sleeping well. If things get worse, they might develop thoughts of harming themselves or others. It is very worrying.
Some people develop a lot of anxiety.
For example, “the transition from ‘normal’ to pandemic was such a change, so rapidly at first, that it impacted our lives like the loss of a job or a loved one, said Colon.
“But it was worldwide. So a lot of people who were vulnerable are dealing with mental illness more than ever,” he added.
Vera Dunsmoor, a registered nurse who is Oswego County’s director of patient services, runs a state-funded program to address overdoses.
“I’m working on a grant for an overdose program,” Dunsmoor said. “It is absolutely necessary. There is a great need for that. »
They look at opioid data and the county’s program is built around that information, she explained, adding that “the issue has been exasperated due to the pandemic.”
“We are really starting to look at the data. We built our work plan around our information and data. This helps us provide direct prevention activities,” she said. “We work with other health care providers and systems to reduce harmful exposure to opioids and addictions.”
They do this by performing academic details in the community.
“We are working to increase education. For naloxone, we are focusing on training in different parts of the county; trying to reach those who may not be familiar with Narcan,” said Meghan Tice, Public Health Educator for Oswego County.
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a prescription drug that reverses an overdose by blocking heroin or other opioids in the brain for 30 to 90 minutes.
“To increase access to naloxone, Meghan is going out and doing a lot of training in the community, training courses on the use of naloxone,” Dunsmoor said.
“We do training and then one person would get a kit to take with them. We also offer more detailed training which can take up to 35-40 minutes,” Tice added.
“We had an increase in 2019 in overdoses. The numbers were higher after that,” Dunsmoor said. “There was then a downward tick at the start of the pandemic. I don’t know if it was because of the confinement and if everyone was scared, but then it happened quickly. »
“The more we can educate people, the more lives we can hopefully save,” she added.
Farnham began arranging walk-in access for the opioid treatment program.
“The best times to come in to connect to opioid treatment programs are Monday through Thursday mornings. If people need help, they should not wait; call or drop by anytime during our normal business hours,” Bresee said.
Mental health diagnoses related to anxiety, depression and mood disorders are among the most common, he said.
Many people do not seek help for fear of catching the virus. This creates challenges for all healthcare providers.
“We run educational programs at times for our community and we also try to work with other agencies so people know about our services and how they can access them,” Colon said. “We try as much as possible. We work with other organizations to raise awareness about mental health. Several programs are in place. A clinic at the Lakeview Center for psychiatric care; a clinic in Fulton and we work with others like Farnham…we all work together.
ARIS — Mental Health Services
Address: 113 Schuyler Street, Fulton
Beacon Psychological Services
Address: 317 W. First St., Suite 112, Oswego
Oswego County Catholic Charities
Address: 808 W. Broadway, Fulton
Address: 61 Delano Street, Pulaski
Oswego Children’s Advocacy Center
Address: 163 S. First St., Fulton
Farnham Family Services — Oswego location
Address: 283 W. Second St., Suite 200, Oswego
Lakeview Center for Mental Health and Wellness — Adult Ambulatory Services
Address: 29 E. Cayuga Street, Oswego
Built-in Liberty resources
Address: 14 Crossroads Drive, Fulton
Oswego County Opportunities, Inc.
Address: 239 Oneida Street, Fulton
SUNY Oswego Council
Address: 202 Hewitt Hall, SUNY Oswego Campus