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, our DMH programs began limiting visitation 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, 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 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990, and you may also text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). 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

Virtual Support Encouraged for Recovery During Pandemic

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is causing challenges throughout the healthcare industry, both for patients and providers, and the substance use and addiction treatment fields are no exception.

Among the vulnerable populations the virus is known to have significant effects on are those individuals who smoke or vape, use opioids, or have a substance use disorder.  Of particular importance to people in recovery from a substance use disorder are the social distancing guidelines that require people to maintain physical distance between individuals and limit gatherings.

“Support from their social networks is vitally important to people in recovery,” said Mae Slay, Outreach Coordinator with Stand Up, Mississippi, the statewide initiative to put an end to the opioid crisis and inspire all Mississippians to create a stronger and healthier future. “Whether someone is in recovery from an opioid use disorder, alcohol use, or any other substance, the social connections that person has are vital for lending them the support they need.

Continue Reading Here

DMH and MSU Psychology Department Offer The Alliance Project Suicide Prevention Training

A federal grant is allowing the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) and Mississippi State University (MSU) to offer training focused on youth suicide prevention, and crucially making it available online to be accessed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Since last year, The Alliance Project training has taught thousands of parents and caregivers, educators, mental health professionals, and others in Mississippi on how to identify when a person is in distress, make a connection with that person, and learn how to help them. A special edition of this training, created by MSU Department of Psychology staff, is now available online, allowing access when so many people and professions are practicing social distancing to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

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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.

Continue Reading Here

 

For Providers

Designated Provider of Continuing Education Activities for DMH Professional Credentials

The “Designated Provider Application and Checklist,” located on the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) website under the “CONTINUING EDUCATION” link, requires that DP-approved CE offerings must be face-to-face:

“Acceptable Formats of Continuing Education Offerings primarily include conferences, seminars, and workshops in which the participant is face to face with the qualified instructor with the opportunity for interaction.”

Due to CDC and MSDH guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the face-to-face requirement of DP-approved CE offerings is not feasible at this time.  Click here to read more: www.dmh.ms.gov/providers/continuing-education/ 

DMH Provider Bulletins

DMH Provider Bulletin Number PR0092 – Clarification of changes to IDD Services due to COVID-19 Crisis

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.

 

Resources for Children

Educator and Parent Resources Regarding Return to School

Representatives from the Mississippi Department of Education and DMH have developed a list of resources for parents and teachers as they prepare for the reopening of schools. A selection of these resources is listed below, but for the full document, please click here.

Numerous other resources are available through the Mississippi Department of Education, including SEL resources and additional COVID-19 resources.

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). Children’s Hospital Colorado has shared a series of videos in which a curious 9-year-old asks 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 for more.

National Association of School Psychologists

From the National Association of School Psychologists on Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19: Families across the country are adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most schools, places of public gathering, and nonessential businesses are closed, and parents and other caregivers are faced with helping their families adjust to the new normal. This includes trying to keep children occupied, feeling safe, and attempting to keep up with schoolwork as best as possible. None of this easy, but it helps to stay focused on what is possible in order to reinforce a sense of control and to reassure children that they are okay, and that the situation will get better. Continue reading here for more information on staying calm and offering reassurance, monitoring television viewing and social media, taking time to talk, and more.

 

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis Response: Supporting a Family Member Who is a Health Care Worker

As our nation collectively grapples with the reality of COVID-19, having a family member who is a health care worker presents special challenges who love them. This resource from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center offers practical guidance, modeled on the NOVA Crisis Response, for supporting these family members.  Click here to read this document from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. 

COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis Response: Supporting the Children and Teens of Health Care Workers

For children with parents working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, every day brings new fears, worries and anxieties. This resource from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center offers practical guidance, modeled on the NOVA Crisis Response, for supporting these young people.  Click here to read this document from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. 

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.

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.