Social Worker: Stay at home orders magnifying mental illness, unsafe homes

I am a clinical social worker with a background in behavioral health. Although, I am able to see some clients thru tele health not all clients are appropriate for this venue, due to their mental instability, lack of technology and unsafe home environments.

Ongoing stay at home orders are causing an increase in mental illness, domestic violence and substance misuse. Some NH residents have no home to shelter in place. For many people home is an unsafe environment and others have no access to technology in order to remain connected to their Case Managers, Therapists and Substance Abuse Clinicians that provide them with a sense of stability and can sometimes prevent a suicide or overdose.

It makes no sense to continue stay at home orders when so many NH residents are suffering. The homeless shelters are closed or filled to capacity as are the domestic violence shelters. Community mental health agencies are only permitted to assist clients via phone or internet. Emergency rooms have been told to prioritize COVID cases as opposed to suicidal, homeless or decompensated patients and these patients often have nowhere to go. Tele health only works if you are stable emotionally and you have reliable wifi, a phone and a safe home with privacy. Otherwise, it is not helpful. It cannot replace in person care.

So, please reopen NH. You can do this with masks, with disinfectant, with hand washing, but please reopen for the sake of this State’s significant population of the mentally and economically compromised.

Amy T.
Wilton, NH