Regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health takes the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus seriously. Our mission is to support a better tomorrow in the lives of Mississippians, and that means protecting their physical health as well. To maintain the health and safety of all Mississippians, the DMH Central Office in Jackson is closed to the general public until further notice. Our employees will continue to support our mission by responding to e-mails and phone calls and providing guidance and support for the public. In addition, our DMH programs began limiting visitation last week at the first signs of COVID-19 began appearing in the state, and will continue to do so in order to protect the health of the people served through our hospitals, regional facilities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and community programs.

“Our vision is a public mental health system that promotes excellence in the provision of services and supports,” DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula said. “Right now, that means doing all we can to safeguard the people we serve, as well as our co-workers and communities at large. This will be a challenging time, but we will continue our work to support a better tomorrow for all Mississippians.”

The DMH Helpline will remain staffed at all times. Call 1-877-210-8513 for information about services or supports near you. Additional resources can be located at www.mentalhealthms.com and www.standupms.org.

Staying Calm in Crisis

The Mississippi Public Health Institute has shared this video that discusses ways to remain calm in a crisis. Take a few minutes and learn how you can help guard against becoming overwhelmed with stress and anxiety in these challenging times.

Managing Stress

Outbreaks like the current COVID-19 coronavirus can cause a lot of stress for people and communities. As the CDC notes, fear and anxiety can be overwhelming for some people. Some quick tips on how to cope include:

  • Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
  • Take care of your physical health by eating well and getting exercise.
  • Keep a sense of hope and positivity with your thoughts and interactions.
  • Even when practicing social distancing, you can connect with others. Make time to have phone calls or video chats with your friends and loved ones.

You can find DMH’s State Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan here: www.dmh.ms.gov/news-and-events/disaster-updates/

You can find more guidance from the CDC on the COVID-19 coronavirus here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

You can find the latest information from the Mississippi State Department of Health here: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/14,0,420.html

For Media

DMH Programs Take Precautions Regarding COVID-19

Mississippi Department of Mental Health programs began limiting visitation last week as the first signs of COVID-19 began appearing in the state and will continue to do so in order to protect the health of the people served through our hospitals, nursing homes, regional facilities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and community programs.

To maintain the health and safety of all Mississippians, the DMH Central Office in Jackson is closed to the general public until further notice. Our employees will continue to support our mission by responding to e-mails and phone calls and providing guidance and support for the public.

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DMH Shares Wellness Tips

The ongoing outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus is a challenging time for many, but the Mississippi Department of Mental Health is encouraging Mississippians to learn about how they can cope with the stress and anxiety that is a natural response to these difficulties.

Fear, stress, and anxiety may be overwhelming, but coping skills can help make people and communities stronger. While many businesses and offices are practicing social distancing, the DMH Helpline will remain staffed at all times and is available by calling 1-877-210-8513 for information about services and supports.

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For Providers

Supportive Practices for Mental Health Professionals During Social Distancing

There are strategies available for mental health professionals to address the stress of isolation. During periods of social distancing, it is important to re-establish and develop balance and connection under a new set of circumstances. When facing challenges — particularly ones related to a pandemic, such as stress, illness, or trauma — balance can help restore feelings of control, and connection can counter feelings of loneliness. Click here to read a tip sheet from the Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network.

National Council for Behavioral Health Guidance

The National Council has created a guide, COVID-19 Guidance for Behavioral Health Residential Facilities, that offers general guidance for residential programs on how to respond if a client develops symptoms of COVID-19, handle clients returning from the hospital and prepare for the return of health care personnel to work. The new report also offers insights into work practice and work restrictions, as well as crisis strategies to mitigate staffing shortages. Click Here to Read the PDF Document COVID-19 Guidance for Behavioral Health Facilities

SAMHSA Resources

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Resources Administration (SAMHSA) recognizes the challenges posed by the current COVID-19 situation and is providing guidance and resources to assist individuals, providers, communities, and states across the country for mental health and substance use. To view the guidance and resources, visit https://www.samhsa.gov/coronavirus.

SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance Related to COVID-19: https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/training-and-technical-assistance-covid19.pdf

Resources for Crisis Providers

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has created the following documents:

Supporting Crisis Center Staff Tip Sheet 
 Supporting Callers/Chat Visitors Tip Sheet 

Notice from Steven Allen to DMH Certified Providers

Click Here to Read Letter from DMH Deputy Executive Director Steven Allen

Notice from Sandra Parks to DMH Certified Providers

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing rapidly; therefore, it is important to follow the Center for Disease Control and Mississippi’s Department of Health’s recommendations to prevent the possible transmission of the disease.  Please remind your employees of the following recommendations and precautions when providing services in the community or the mental health center/office:

  • If you are sick, stay home. Any staff experiencing signs and symptoms of respiratory illness should notify their supervisors and avoid exposing others in the workplace by staying home.
  • Employees reporting to work after traveling out of State or the Country should be screened by asking if they have recently had any exposure to COVID-19 infected individuals. They should be asked if they have had any signs of respiratory illness, emphasizing fever.  If possible, employees should have their temperature taken before being allowed in the workplace.  The CDC defines fever as 100.4°F or higher.  We understand that thermometers are in short supply, if necessary, employees should be instructed to take their own temperatures at home.  If temp is 100.4 F or higher, they should stay home.
  • For employees reporting to work, the following is recommended:
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes, use a tissue when possible, and throw the tissue away
    • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for staff to use regularly
    • Refrain from social visiting and congregating outside of your work area
    • Communicate via email and conference calls as often as possible
    • Avoid unnecessary air, bus or train travel
  • Avoid having groups or any gatherings with 10 people or more.  Provide enough space for social distancing (at least six (6) feet of distance between each other).
  • For Supervised Living and Residential Services:
    • In-person visitation should be limited or suspended
    • Allow visits via facetime and other electronic means
    • Screen individuals being admitted to services (CDC screener available on website)
    • Take temperatures daily for staff and residents, if possible

For further guidance and daily updates, please visit the websites below:

https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/14,0,420.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Below are updated policies and resources for Providers from the MS Division of Medicaid:

https://medicaid.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Emergency-Telehealth-Policy-3.19.2020-3.pdf

https://medicaid.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Snyder-Ltr-to-Glaze-20200318.pdf

https://medicaid.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Coronavirus-FAQs-and-Resources-for-HCBS-Providers.pdf

Thank you for taking care of your employees and the individuals you serve.

 

Resources for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous on Meeting Options

Alcoholics Anonymous has shared information for groups that are unable to meet at their usual times and places. Click here for some shared experience around meeting online.

SAMHSA Guidance Regarding OTP

Click here for guidance from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration related to OTP.

 

Additional Resources

Protecting Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Human beings like certainty.  We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us.  When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed.  This very reaction, while there to protect us, can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us. Click here to read more from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Reducing Stigma

Public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are stressful times for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things. For example, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease. Stigma can also occur after a person has been released from COVID-19 quarantine even though they are not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others. Click here to read more from the CDC.

Children’s Hospital Colorado

It can be tough for parents to have the right answers to questions about an illness like COVID-19, the condition caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). In this video, a curious 9-year-old asks our experts common kid questions about the virus. They cover topics from traveling to taking care of family and playing with friends. Watch this video to learn how to talk to kids about the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to watch a video answering kids’ questions about the coronavirus.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Social Distancing

This tip sheet describes feelings and thoughts you may have during and after social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. It also suggests ways to care for your behavioral health during these experiences and provides resources for more help.Click here to read a tip sheet from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.