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Mental healthcare workers turning to telemedicine during COVID-19 pandemic

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ROCK COUNTY (WKOW) -- Health care workers and psychiatrists are turning to telemedicine to work with patients who are dealing with anxiety and mental health conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Telemedicine is using technology like Skype, Facetime, Zoom, and other video conferencing tools to provide clinical health care to patients at a distance. 

A clinical psychologist of 15 years, Michelle Rose-Barajas said “people who don’t normally have anxiety are experiencing anxiety right now.” 

Rose-Barajas, who also oversees the behavioral health clinics across Mercyhealth in Rock and Walworth County said finances, job loss, and concerns for the health of family and one's self are some factors that are increasing the risk for mental health conditions. 

Due to the Safer at Home order and social distancing, some patients aren’t able to have normal face to face visits with their psychiatrists, but health care workers at Mercyhealth are adapting and adjusting the way they provide their services. 

“I think everybody feels really happy about the fact that we’re able to continue to reach out to patients and continue to be a source of support for them even if that’s using telemedicine and video communications to do so,” Rose-Barajas said. 

She also mentioned that essential workers like healthcare staff on the frontlines might need additional support. 

“A lot of the healthcare workers and the first responders go into crisis mode to do what they need to make sure that the patients and the community members are having their needs met,” Rose-Barajas said. 

This often increases their grief, trauma, or secondary trauma causing a surge in mental health disorders. 

Despite this, Rose-Barajas feels prepared to provide virtual support and other services to patients, healthcare workers, and anyone who needs it during this time. 

“I hope that people who are doing that work are reaching out for help if they need it, and just ask those of us who do this work that we’re very happy to step in and provide the support,” Rose-Barajas said. 

With video technology, doctors are still able to connect with their patients and provide therapy online. 

They are also providing services over the phone to people who might not have access to video communication apps and technology. 

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Alyssa Hui

WKOW News

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