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KCUR's Gina Kaufmann brings you personal essays about how we're all adapting to a very different world.

Here's How To Find Mental Health Help In Kansas City Under Stay-At-Home Orders

Vladimir Sainte
Vladimir Sainte of Truman Medical Center is also the author of children's books for navigating emotions; he and his family have been turning to online storytimes for bonding and self-care.

Mental health experts say that even people who remain physically healthy throughout the COVID-19 epidemic are already experiencing high levels of trauma, which will be with them long after the spread of the virus is under control.

"This is a stressful time that we have little control over," says Kortney Carr, a local therapist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. She worries that many of us are unaware of how we're processing that trauma. 

Some providers have continued in-person therapy sessions, but most have switched primarily if not completely to teletherapy. Karr points out, however, that the barriers to access that existed before COVID-19 — financial obstacles, long waiting lists to see practitioners — have not gone away. Teletherapy has added new challenges, such as privacy for sessions and access to computers.

Other resources are available. Vladimir Sainte is the author of children's books as well as a licensed clinical social worker based at Truman Medical Center. He and his coworkers have been working to create activity packets for families trying to navigate emotions around how their lives have changed.

Sainte says it's vital to be aware that anger, anxiety and confusion are "normal reactions to an abnormal situation," and to be deliberate about working through them.

"This is truly a time to build healthy practices/habits around self-care," he adds.

Here is a list of resources all Kansas Citians can access for help with psychological distress.

Missouri Department of Mental Health — A toll-free hotline connects callers with immediate counseling. The hotline is free, confidential, and staffed with multilingual service providers. The number is 1-800-985-5990. You can also text "TalkWithUs" to 66746. The organization has an Office of Disaster Services, which is a hub for coordinated mental health responses to disasters statewide. Among the many resources the office has made available online is a guide to coping with sheltering-in-place.

Truman Behavioral Health — Truman offers telehealth services for behavioral health. In-person psychological consultations are being scheduled as needed, on a limited basis. A crisis line can be reached at 888-279-8188. Since Kansas City's emergency order went into effect, another phone line has been added specifically for intake assessment to enter into psychological services. The number is 816-404-5905. In addition, the Room of Refuge, which began as a conference room retrofitted to facilitate mindfulness activities for medical staff dealing with trauma, has been turned into a virtual space for mindfulness resources and is now available to the general public.

Rainbow Services, Inc.This community provider offers 24-hour behavioral health assessments as well as crisis stabilization and "sobering beds." This is a way to be connected with mental health technicians, licensed addiction counselors, recovery coaches and others. The clinic is still taking walk-ins for stabilization during immediate mental health or substance abuse crises at 1301 North 47th Street in Kansas City, Kansas, or these resources can be accessed by phone at 913-956-5620 (you can also call this number to get help for someone else requiring stabilization). 

Wyandot Behavioral Health Network — In addition to being the umbrella organization for Rainbow Services, Inc. (listed above), Wyandot Behavioral Health Network provides access to mental health professionals who are accepting calls between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. They offer a medication clinic and medication delivery services, which have been modified for the safety of patients and staff, but those services remain available. Telephone and telehealth services are being used for therapy to the fullest extent possible. The organization has created a page on their website for advice on maintaining emotional wellness during COVID-19, including a note to be on the lookout for the intensification of pre-existing mental health conditions, or new cases of anxiety and depression in people who have never experienced them before.

Mattie Rhodes Center— This organization provides family programs as well as access to bilingual therapists at a number of community locations. They have limited the number of staff at each service location, with most workers offering telehealth services remotely from home. Call 816-471-2536 for help navigating what is available through Mattie Rhodes Center at this time. 

Mental Health America of the Heartland — This regional hub for a national mental health organization offers crisis lines on a county-by-county basis throughout Kansas and Missouri. For non-crisis situations, people needing support, coping strategies or even just "reprieve from loneliness and isolation" can call the Compassionate Ear Warmline at 913-281-2251. Those services are available between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily.

Gina Kaufmann is the host of KCUR's Central Standard. You can reach her on Twitter, @GinaKCUR.

People don't make cameos in news stories; the human story is the story, with characters affected by news events, not defined by them. As a columnist and podcaster, I want to acknowledge what it feels like to live through this time in Kansas City, one vantage point at a time. Together, these weekly vignettes form a collage of daily life in Kansas City as it changes in some ways, and stubbornly resists change in others. You can follow me on Twitter @GinaKCUR or email me at gina@kcur.org.
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