Lancaster Physician Spring 2021 - 20

L A N C A S T E R M E D I C A L S O C I E T Y.O R G

Healthy Communities

COVID-19, about four in ten adults in the U.S.
have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, compared with one in ten who reported
these symptoms from January to June 2019.
Research continues to demonstrate that the
effects of social isolation-including impairment of sleep, mental and physical well-being,
and executive functioning-are harmful,
contributing to higher morbidity and mortality
rates. A meta-analysis co-authored by Julianne
Holt-Lunstad, PhD, (Perspectives on Physiologic Science Vol.10.No.2.2015 ) found that
" There is robust evidence that social isolation
and loneliness significantly increase risk for
premature mortality. "
IMPACT ON PATIENTS
The social isolation has led to an increase in
individuals experiencing symptoms of depression
and anxiety, which are often correlated with
an increase in alcohol sales and substance use.
Recovery from chronic conditions such
as mental illness or substance use disorder
often happens in the context of relationships
and community. For many, a large part of
the recovery journey includes participation
in community-based programs and strong
relationships with peer supports. When stay at
home measures were implemented, individuals
experienced a dramatic and sudden disconnection from these supports.
With the embrace of telemedicine and virtual
groups, there has been a silver lining. As more
community-based programs pivoted to virtual
platforms, the opportunities for specialized
groups increased and the geographic challenges
have been reduced. However, that is not to
suggest there is no need for a return to in-person
services. Though importantly, what we learned
in creating remote offerings will allow us to be
even more effective with communication as we
return to in-person modalities.
PATIENT POPULATIONS AT RISK
Although social isolation affects all people,
certain populations of individuals are more vulnerable to the effects, such as older adults, minorities,
individuals with pre-existing mental or physical
health illness, individuals with substance use
disorder, and those of low socioeconomic status.

It's no surprise that many children are reporting feeling alone, but so are their caregivers who
left the workforce to navigate online schooling.
And, we cannot exclude the young adults who
were getting ready to begin their journey of
adulthood by either beginning their higher
education career or entering the workforce. In
short, many of the patients and colleagues we
interact with every day are feeling isolated and
lonely. It is important that we normalize these
feelings and experiences, provide resources,
offer coping strategies, and most importantly,
build hope.
BUILDING HOPE
Many published studies indicate that hope is
the single best predictor of well-being. Hope is
the belief that your future can be brighter and
better than your past and that you actually have
a role in making it better. Individuals who maintain their identity and participate in activities
and relationships outside of their diagnosis have
higher levels of hope. Equipping patients with
the skills needed to advocate for themselves
and self-manage their conditions increases their
hope. Making referrals for patients to build
connections with other individuals who have
similar lived experiences-such as peer support
specialists and support groups-builds hope.
LOCAL RESOURCES
With a primary focus on mental health, Let's
Talk, Lancaster is a coalition working to increase
awareness of the mental and behavioral services,
improve the connection between primary care
and mental health care, reduce stigma, and promote resiliency through education and training.
Lancaster Joining Forces, a collaborative, is
working to reduce overdose deaths through the
implementation of evidence-based strategies across
the continuum of behavioral health care (prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery).
The two coalitions collaborate to better understand co-occurring mental health and substance
use, best practices for providing treatment and
ongoing management of the co-occurring
chronic conditions, and how to address the
environmental factors that increase risk.
One way to help patients find connection
is by referring them to local resources, such as
the following:

LANCASTER

20

PHYSICIAN

Dial 211 - A service through United Way, it
connects individuals with a variety of community-based supports including mental health and
substance use treatment and recovery supports.
Mental Health America (MHA) of Lancaster
County - MHA provides specialized support
and navigation services for individuals seeking
mental health services.
mhalancaster.org | 717-397-7461
Community Mental Health Assistance Program
(CMAP) - CMAP connects Lancaster County
residents to mental health providers for three
sessions at no cost. (CMAP is a program of MHA
of Lancaster County.)
mhalancaster.org | 717-397-7461
Recovery InSight, Inc. - This peer support organization serves individuals over the age of 18
with a serious mental, behavioral, or emotional
disorder, experienced within the past year.
recovery-insight.com | 717-517-8552
Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation
(LOHF) - LOHF offers mental health education
for medical staff and a co-pay assistance
program for patients to ensure that cost is not a
barrier to participating in mental health services.
lohf.org | 717-397-8722
Crisis Intervention Services (available 24/7 by
calling 717-394-2631) - Crisis Intervention staff
assist in assessing what a person needs to
alleviate an immediate crisis and links individuals
to appropriate services.

LOOKING AHEAD
The transition back to in-person school,
work, gatherings, and events will bring to light
the ongoing needs of individuals and families
impacted by mental illness and substance use
disorder. Let's Talk, Lancaster and Lancaster
Joining Forces will continue to monitor the local
data, address access to quality, equitable care,
and implement tested and effective strategies to
reduce the impact and re-build the health and
well-being of the patients and communities
we serve. We invite you, and your patients, to
join us.


http://www.mhalancaster.org http://www.mhalancaster.org http://www.recovery-insight.com http://www.lohf.org

Lancaster Physician Spring 2021

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/Fall2017
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