Counseling Provider Works to Ensure Mental Health and Addiction Services Are Available

Mar 27, 2020

For people battling addiction or mental health issues, the coronavirus situation could put up more roadblocks to treatment and recovery. But service providers are doing all they can to prevent that.

In Stark County, CommQuest Services is keeping open its outpatient centers. CommQuest CEO Keith Hochadel explains that some people need to be seen in person. 

"They either don't have access to a phone, don't have minutes left on their phone," he said. "They have some emergent crisis situation it needs opened, so our outpatient offices are open from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m."

Hochadel says they are taking precautions with people who visit the outpatient centers, located in Canton, Massillon, Carrollton and Minerva.

"We're taking people's temperature when they come in," he said.

They're also telling people not to come if they have any signs or symptoms or have been around someone sick with suspected COVID-19.

"We'll call you, and we'll do your appointment that way," Hochadel said.  

He says they're also conducting outpatient counseling via telehealth services, something the state expanded in the wake of the pandemic.

"What we've found is we're able to reach out to people more often," Hochadel said. "Telehealth is working. We had a little bit with it through our telepsych previously, so it's not new. It's just different, and people are adjusting really, really well." 

He says they've been trying to check in with clients more frequently, both those being treated for drug and alcohol addiction and those receiving mental health treatment.

"This is a really stressful time for people and, oftentimes, their mental health or addictions counselor is that peaceful voice that they can hear and talk to," he said. "I think that, for us, we just want to make sure that people are getting the care that they need."

Hochadel says his staff, working with CommQuest's technology department, has devised ways to conduct group counseling sessions via telehealth utilizing their smartphones and/or computers.

"Our staff are really passionate to help folks," he said. "It's working out, I think, better than everybody thought it was going to."

Hochadel said he hasn't seen a surge in people seeking assistance, but he said there are people coming in who previously may have put off getting help.

"We've had a couple people go to detox over the weekend," he said. "We have some folks that have been seeking psych services that might have delayed in the past." 

CommQuest runs two residential treatment centers for women: Deliverance House in Canton and Deliverance House II in Massillon. These facilities currently are full.

"I'm not a big fan of waiting lists, but there's only so many bed spaces," Hochadel said. "More than anything else, it's just how do we stay connected to the people that need help. And when people reach out to us, how do we make sure we're getting them help that day." 

Ohio's addiction crisis might be affected by the precautions the pandemic requires.

"I'm  a little concerned that the 12-step meetings are not included in some of the essential services," Hochadel said, referring to Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar in-person meetings that are not taking place. "I talked to a gentleman this morning from another community, and he's trying to find a way to have a 12-step meeting outside with less than 10 people where there's plenty of social distancing." 

"This impacts every single person every single day," he said, regardless if you're someone currently in treatment or not. "It doesn't matter if it's our kids, if it's our parents, if it's my wife and I," he said. "You know we're talking about this all the time, and there's just--without putting the phone down or turning the TV off...you just can't disconnect."

CommQuest has a Mobile Response Team available if you're experiencing a crisis at (330) 452-6000. For people in despair who may be considering taking their own lives, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text 4HOPE to 741-741.