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The Face of Covid, Part 3

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 3:30 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Area hospitals, along with the Brown County Health Department, continued their series of weekly media briefings called “The Faces of Covid.”

This week’s focus, the impact the pandemic is having on mental and behavioral health in the community and some of the issues families, children and those struggling with addiction are facing right now.

In these unprecedented times, many families are facing challenges and perhaps the biggest one is the unknown.

“One of the things that I’m seeing a lot of in my own practice is that routine is off, so families, couples, we’re used to a certain routine and a certain rhythm to our life, that doesn’t exist right now. Are children going to be in school, are we going to be working from home, are we going to be in-person, are we going to be quarantined, are we going to get that call from the health department telling us that we’ve been in contact, are we safe,” says Lisa Tutskey, a family therapist with Prevea Health.

With Northeast Wisconsin still a Covid hot spot, health care professionals say we’re entering a time of the year that will be difficult for many families to navigate.

“We are in a time of tradition, it’s the holidays, we have Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and so much of what we would normally do with our immediate family, as well as extended family, looks quite different, so there’s issues of grief and loss as well,” says Tutskey.

For those battling addiction, the pandemic is proving dangerous.

Those assisting with treatment say drug and alcohol abuse are up, and many are struggling to find the support and help they need.

“Not all residential facilities are able to take patients when they’re in their highest need, either because of the social distancing or having the correct PPE in place, processes in place. We have been giving out a lot of opiate overdose kits, which if you can’t get in, we want to be able to give some kinds of supports and resources to people so they can still be with us tomorrow,” says Mary Kriescher, Oneida Behavioral Health Services Director.

And finally, children.

While us as adults may feel plenty of stress, don’t forget little ones and teens are dealing with a lot as well.

“When the things children have enjoyed such as sports, play dates, hang outs and parties have been cancelled or changed, this also causes stress, they become depressed, fearful, bored, or maybe lonely, the children who struggled with those symptoms before Covid are even at a higher risk,” says Dr. Donald Beno, a pediatrician with Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

We also heard from a counselor who works with area employers, saying they’ve been forced into a different stratosphere when it comes to dealing with change.

He says employers who have the greatest amount of adaptability, change management skills, and emotional response flexibility, are the ones who will get through this the best.

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