Mental health experts in Connecticut say it is clear: the pandemic has fueled an increase in mental health related problems. Now, the experts want to know more.
The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is partnering with Yale for a COVID-19 mental health impact survey. They are asking anyone in Connecticut to participate. The department is hoping to learn more about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of CT residents.
The department is hoping to learn about how the pandemic has affected mental health, what communities, what role social determinants of health may play, explained Nancy Navarretta, the deputy commissioner of CT DMHAS.
According to Navarretta, about 700 people have responded so far. The department is looking for as many responses as possible. They said the results will help them prioritize policy and programming.
"We can make modifications based on what residents are telling us," said Navarretta. "You help inform us, you help inform our policy, and we hope to give you back an improved service system.”
The Town of Stonington is one community that experienced an increase in mental health related calls. According to their human services department, they usually receive about 6,000 calls a year. In 2020, that number jumped to more than 10,000.
“We have never received that many before. Needs coming in from food insecurities to people not being able to meet their monthly expenses due to job loss," said Leanne Theodore, human services director.
In response, the town created a new position: community outreach specialist. Deanna Rushlow is taking on the job. Her goal is to connect people who are struggling with the help they need.
“There are so many wonderful resources throughout the community and sometimes people just don’t know about them," said Rushlow.
The Stonington Human Services team said it will also help them if people fill out the state's survey.
"It definitely helps us develop programs and be responsive to community needs," said Theodore.
The survey can be accessed online here.
People are also invited to fill out the survey over the phone at 475-434-1899 or 475-355-5393. More information can be found here.