THIS TIME OF YEAR, as we leave autumn behind and November rolls on, many reflect on the importance of giving thanks and gratitude. These past two years have been exceptionally challenging for people around the world. We have all experienced loss during this time, ranging from loss of ability to engage in daily activities to the lives of loved ones.
As there is light along with darkness, the pandemic’s silver lining has been that most of us have gained a renewed sense of gratitude for the positive things in our lives, no matter how small; things that until now we may have taken for granted.
All of the first responders in the state of New Hampshire, such as our health care providers, EMTs, firefighters and police officers have been working courageously to keep our communities as safe as possible. Community organizations have provided solutions to a diverse number of needs from critically needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to food for school children when they were unable to attend school. Our local governments and businesses responded quickly to provide what residents required. It has been inspirational to see communities come together to support people in their time of need.
There is another important group of heroes who perhaps are not on everyone’s radar, but without whom many residents would be so lost: the staff of our Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs). The staff of the 10 CMHCs that cover New Hampshire have remained committed to ensuring that clients who require mental health and/or substance use disorder services do not go uncared for, no matter how challenging providing that care may be. From the very first days of the pandemic, we have remained available to our clients, and that is still the case today.
Under the best of circumstances, managing the fear and anxiety about COVID made maintaining mental wellbeing a continuous balancing act. We knew that for those recovering from difficult mental health disorders and/or substance misuse, the added stress and imposed isolation could easily worsen symptoms to dangerous levels. The staff at the CMHCs refused to allow that to happen. Everyone quickly rallied to contact clients by phone to check in and ensure them that they were not alone and would not be abandoned. Fortunately, for many, telehealth options, new to many of us at the time, allowed services to continue despite the need for physical separation.
For those clients who required physical medical care, such as injections that could not merely be stopped, the CMHC medical staff donned their PPE, while facilities staff thoroughly sanitized all areas of buildings, and administrative staff provided the needed screening for clients who had to enter the building, all with the health and safety of both clients and staff as the highest priority.
Additionally, many clients who depended upon case managers and community supports to get them through their day-to-day lives, whether obtaining food, taking medications or receiving other services at home, were very much at risk. From the earliest days of the pandemic, our staff members rallied and visited these clients despite the very real possible risks.
All 10 CMHCs kept their 24/7 emergency services up and running so that New Hampshire residents finding themselves in crisis knew that getting help was just a phone call away.
The CEOs of the ten CMHCs are members of the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association (CBHA), which collaborates to ensure that everyone in the state has access to professional services and supports as needed, despite any financial or insurance limitations. The CMHCs of New Hampshire are here for individuals of all ages and all are welcomed into our centers. Speaking on behalf of my colleagues in the CBHA, we are so very proud of the amazing work that has been accomplished in the past two years by all of our staff and applaud their tireless dedication to clients.
If you want to know more about CBHA and the CMHCs in New Hampshire, visit www.nhcbha.org to find your local Community Mental Health Center. In addition, all CMHCs are hiring at this time, so if you or someone you know would like to join us in the extremely rewarding work of saving lives, we want to hear from you.