New options available for Coloradans struggling with mental health during pandemic

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) —  There are new options for people with mental health issues during this pandemic.

HealthONE is now offering teletherapy to provide outpatient treatments for adults and adolescents struggling with emotional or behavioral issues.

Patients can still get things like group therapy and family therapy, all through video conferencing.

This new program is helping patients like Penny Hutt, who has struggled with depression anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder for years. She was getting help at the Behavioral Health and Wellness Center at the Medical Center of Aurora, but during this pandemic, her intensive outpatient program has transitioned to teletherapy.

“If you go into an office, you are still putting yourself and others at risk, and so the telehealth was a very good option,” Hutt said.

She now has group meetings through video conferences Monday through Thursday.

“During the groups, they have three different therapist come in, and each one leads a training session, or a discussion session or some kind of art therapy,” she said.

Hutt says the therapy is really helping her during this period of isolation. 

“Right now, I need that safety net because it’s real easy to backslide when you are alone all the time,” she said. 

Psychiatrists at the Behavioral Health and Wellness Center say the transition is going well.

“There is something to be said for sitting across from somebody in person. However, luckily enough, in the filed of psychiatry, most of what we do is conversation,” said Dr. Eric French, the medical director of adult in-patient psychiatry at Medical Center of Aurora.

He says many patients come into the program with anxiety about COVID-19. 

“I’m hearing that patients are afraid. They’re afraid of what’s happing around them,” French said.

The administration is glad to have this option for adults and adolescents.

“In some cases, the adolescents have been more open through the telehealth model than they might have been if they are sitting in a group setting,” said Whitney Kearney, the director of the behavioral health outpatient program.

She hopes to continue with teletherapy after the pandemic and to expand accessibility for people with distance or transportation barriers.

The program is HIPPA compliant and covered by most major insurance.

For more information, visit the Behavioral Health and Wellness Center’s website.

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