Sen. DeGazon calls on Department of Health to address Mental Health during COVID-19 pandemic
Updated: Apr 17
Sen. Allison L. DeGazon on Tuesday wrote a letter to Department of Health Commissioner, Justa Encarnacion, calling on her to provide status on resources to address mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As you know I have always been on the forefront of ensuring that the Department of Health receives the necessary support to serve our mentally ill community members,” DeGazon said. “At this time when all resources have been levied towards streamlining the spread of the coronavirus, we must also take into consideration the mental health impact it has on our community.”
DeGazon was appreciative of the contact numbers provided by DOH during the Governor’s COVID-19 press briefings to reach someone if they are feeling overwhelmed, however, more measures needed to be taken.
“The side effects of the pandemic response are playing a role on people's state of mind. Anxiety is high, and everyone knows that financial issues are always challenging for individuals and families. This pandemic will have a negative impact on our already fragile mental health infrastructure. We must be prepared to help our people through economic challenges as well as mental trauma,” DeGazon said.
Subsequently, social distancing and the stay at home order can lead to emotional distancing which contributes to a range of mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
“These are direct triggers that lead to heavier consumption of drugs and alcohol, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. With these facts lingering before us, what plans are being considered to deal with the mental health impact once the crisis subsides?” DeGazon asked.
DOH has noted during a previous COVID-19 press conference that the territory has seen an increase in suicide, domestic violence and mental anguish from social distancing which leads to an increase in depression.
With that in mind, DeGazon has posed two questions to DOH:
1) What type of services will the Department of Health offer to assist with curtailing or managing these issues?
2) Considering the aforementioned, what is the status of the Anna’s Hope project and the pending plans and timelines associated with that facility and the overall plans to improve our mental health crisis resilience?
“Time is of the essence and we must be prepared and proactive to properly serve our community,” she said.