South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday November 24, 2020
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October 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 4
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Collective Trauma: Collaboration Is Critical Between Health Care and Mental Health Professionals

Collective trauma – the psychological reactions by an entire society or group of people to traumatic events such as war, pandemic, or social unrest – is a current reality that few of us have experienced to this degree before. For us as mental health professionals, the ramifications of COVID-19 and other recent circumstances will be felt for years, if not decades.

The effects on our community, clients, and patients are two-fold.
 
First, collective trauma means that large numbers of people are suffering, collectively. The sheer volume of those needing and seeking mental health services has grown exponentially. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll indicates that 53% of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered an increase of more than 1,000% in April compared to the same period last year. Telehealth services are proliferating, too, which is good news in terms of improving access for rural populations and clients who cannot otherwise readily tap into community or private mental health services. Clearly, more Americans need mental health services now.
 
Services to address anxiety and depression, a rise in domestic violence, substance abuse, and suicide are particularly in demand. Already, the majority of Americans who need mental health services do not receive them. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that only 43.3% of adults with mental illness in the U.S. received treatment in 2018. With the increased need resulting from the current trauma, the number of people needing and not getting treatment will continue to climb, which could leave provider organizations overwhelmed by demand and tens of millions of Americans without critical mental health care.
 
Secondly, collective trauma can result in those affected needing more intensive treatment. For many clients with pre-existing anxiety and depression, COVID-19 is likely exacerbating their symptoms with job loss, isolation, fear, economic strain, according to the KFF. Clients who were managing their symptoms with medication and once- or twice-weekly outpatient therapy may be unable to cope and require a higher level of care.
 
Now more than ever, mental health service providers need reliable referral sources where these clients can access the level of care that their illness necessitates. Some require inpatient or residential resources, but many can benefit from an evidence-based outpatient care with intensive outpatient (IOP) or partial hospitalization (PHP) specialized treatment targeting anxiety, depression, and other specific disorders. PHP and IOP offer a higher dose of treatment with individual and group therapy three to six hours a day, five days a week. Outpatient providers and other healthcare professionals can serve as a source of information for their clients and refer them to a higher or different level of care when warranted.
 
How Rogers is addressing the needs of the South Florida community and beyond.
Rogers Behavioral Health is a not for profit organization with a 112-year history of effectively treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at these higher levels of care, as well as, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and general mental illness. Based in Wisconsin with clinics around the country, Rogers opened its first fully bilingual clinic in Miami, Florida in early 2019 to serve both the Hispanic community and Spanish-speaking populations, as well as English-speaking adults and children.. Providers across the country serving Hispanic clients with specialized needs for multilingual and culturally competent care can refer them to Rogers when their conditions necessitate more intensive treatment and dedicated interdisciplinary teams that can help clients navigate their healing in these highly stressful times of collective trauma.
 
We continue to serve patients from Miami, throughout Florida and beyond during the pandemic through our virtual treatment option. As with our traditional PHP and IOP patients, those seeking virtual treatment generally return to their outpatient providers for ongoing care. As the impact of the pandemic and other traumatic events take their toll on mental health, this higher level of care is more critical than ever.

Learn more about our Miami clinic at rogersbh.org/Miami or call directly at (305) 929-0600 where you can request a free confidential screening. Rogers is in network with AETNA: Carisk/Concordia: CIGNA; Comp Psych; Humana; New Directions/Florida Blue Cross; Optum/UBH and Magellan.

Free virtual Family Support Groups are open to members of the community on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from noon to 1:30 pm for families with loved ones suffering from anxiety, OCD and/or depression and other mood disorders. You can reach out to the clinic (305) 929-0600 or email Sarah Norfleet at sarah.norfleet@rogersbh.org.
 
Maria Susanne Haase (Susanne) holds an MSEd in mental health counseling from University of Miami. Originally from Ecuador, she is bi-lingual in Spanish and English and speaks French and Portuguese as well. Before transitioning to mental health counseling, Susanne had a long corporate career with a Fortune 500 company directing corporate communications in their Latin America and Caribbean region. She is a strong advocate for access to mental health services, particularly for the Hispanic and other underserved communities.
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