The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted schedules, education routines and social events, but, perhaps more seriously, it has also increased the need, nationally and locally, for behavioral health and addiction services.

Dr. J. Craig Allen, medical director of Rushford, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, told a panel from the Meriden Record-Journal this week that there has been greater demand for the facility’s services in the five months since the pandemic hit the area.

“It’s important to identify (problems) as soon as possible and try to intervene because once these disorders progress, they are harder to treat,” he said in the interview. “But we’re ready.”

Substance use disorder (SUD) and behavioral health issues often intersect and affect a person simultaneously, Dr. Allen said, noting that the stress of the current world situation has been a trigger for many.

“We’re looking for people who want extra support and help,” he said of Rushford and its care teams.

Rushford — which operates locations in Avon, Cheshire, Durham, Glastonbury, Meriden, Middletown and Portland — offers intensive outpatient and inpatient services for all ages. Trained teams specializing in SUD and behavioral health also work to bring important preventive support and treatment into the community through innovative programs like Meriden Opioid Referral for Recovery (MORR), which engages local first responders in the fight against opioid addiction by empowering them to refer residents to treatment instead of jail for minor infractions. Dr. Allen also said the Rushford Mobile Crisis Program will respond directly to the home of anyone who calls when in the midst of a medical or substance use emergency.

Rushford, he said, never closed during the pandemic and continued to offer a variety of care in person and through telemedicine and Zoom sessions for those in need.

“Spread the word that we are open for business and practicing, in a safe way,” he urged the panelists. “(People can) call us and not wait until they’re totally out of control. But, if they are, they can call us then too.”

For more information about Rushford and its services, click here.

The Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network is now scheduling virtual-health visits for mental health and addiction services. Call your provider for details. New patients can schedule a virtual visit by calling 1.888.984.2408.

For more information on the programs and services available through the Behavioral Health Network, click here.  

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