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Familylinks Provides Telemedicine Support During National Mental Health Awareness Month

Contact Information:
Lauren Galletta
Director of Development & Outreach

Familylinks Provides Telemedicine Support During National Mental Health Awareness Month

COVID-19 creates increased anxiety and depression for many

Pittsburgh, PA, May 14, 2020 … Familylinks is marking National Mental Health Awareness Month in May by expanding social media awareness and other virtual community outreach efforts to make support services available through telemedicine to those experiencing anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. For more than 50 years, Familylinks has been providing individual/group counseling and therapy for thousands of residents of all ages in the Pittsburgh region. Dr. Marianne DiMatteo, Chief Operations Officer at Familylinks, commented, “At Familylinks, we are fully prepared to assist older adults, health professionals, youth and others who need support as they deal with COVID-19 medical concerns and social distancing restrictions. These issues can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration, increased use of alcohol or drugs, and a significant increase in stress levels which can negatively affect personal health.”

She continued, “Our goal is to provide client-friendly access to mental health support, reduce the stigma frequently associated with seeking mental health services, and offer other resources during this time of heightened distress for our community. Our comprehensive array of programs includes our Family Based Mental Health Services for children, adolescents and adults, and our Recovery Support Center for those needing help with addiction. Anyone seeking information on these and other essential support programs can call Familylinks at 1-866-583-6003 or visit our website at Our compassionate staff is ready to help.”

Familylinks is a nonprofit organization committed to building healthy communities by strengthening individuals and families through the provision of comprehensive, quality services. By believing in the worth of those served, Familylinks assures that all children, families and seniors in western Pennsylvania have the tools they need to be healthy, happy and strong for life. Last year alone, the agency served nearly 10,000 people. These individuals range from children to seniors, in a variety of neighborhoods, income groups and beliefs. They all have one thing in common - when they turn to Familylinks in their time of need, we are here for them. To learn more, visit A brief list of sources providing information related to the effect of COVID-19 on individuals is attached.

Mental Health Facts and Information:
U. S. Centers for Disease and Control (CDC)
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include

  • Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • Children and teens
  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
  • People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

Source: Mental Health Alliance (MHA)
As the number of cases of COVID-19 increases, so does the associated anxiety. For the general public, the mental health effects of COVID-19 are as essential to address as are the physical health effects. And for the one in five who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – we need to take personal, professional, and policy measures now to address them. For the past several weeks, MHA has been using its unique database to monitor daily this increase in anxiety. According to our screening data, we experienced a 19 percent increase in screening for clinical anxiety in the first weeks of February and a 12 percent increase in the first two weeks of March. This suggests that our screeners are not just “worried well.” Instead they represent thousands of people whose lives and sense of well-being are being severely impacted by concerns about the virus.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2020
Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, and the isolation, blame and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support and living well. Learning how to avoid and address stigma are important for all of us, especially when you realize stigma’s effects:

  • People experiencing mental health conditions often face rejection, bullying and discrimination. This can make their journey to recovery longer and more difficult.
  • Mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability across the United States.
  • Even though most people can be successfully treated, less than half of the adults in the U.S. who need services and treatment get the help they need.
  • The average delay between the onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death of youth ages 15-24 and the tenth leading cause of death for all Americans.