Last week, Anchorage and Fairbanks Community Mental Health Services (ACMHS/FCMHS) shifted most services to telehealth, using secure, encrypted Zoom video conferencing when possible. Telephone appointments are also being used.
All needed forms for new and existing clients can be filled out and submitted securely through our website on a smartphone or computer. We have also posted instructions for joining Zoom appointments and meeting requests.
Our clinics are open and seeing clients who don’t have access to technology or have needs that cant be met remotely. We are screening for symptoms of illness before entering. Please prepare to be greeted at the door, answer a few questions, and have your temperature taken. We are also screening staff as they arrive each morning for symptoms of illness and fever.
Importance of Mental Health Care
While the State has called for the suspension or delay of many non-critical services, mental health services have specifically been exempted from those mandates. Continuing to provide outpatient mental health services is a critical piece of keeping our health care system working.
- Outpatient services keep people with mental illness out of higher levels of care, such as foster care, residential treatment programs, assisted living facilities, jails and hospitals. In any of those settings, their chance of infection is greater than if they can stay home in the community.
- It takes more resources, from medical personnel to PPE, to serve clients in these higher levels of care, and those resources are or will be in short supply.
- Roughly 1/3 of all emergency room visits are psychological. Roughly 1/3 of primary care visits are also psychological. Our hospitals, emergency rooms, and primary care providers are counting on mental health care providers to serve our clients and new clients needing mental health care, so that they can address the health crisis.
- This crisis is not likely to end soon. The loss of normal routines and social contacts will be challenging for all Alaskans, especially those who already struggle with mental illness. Alaska already loses more than 100 people each year to suicide and substance abuse. We expect to see increased need for behavioral health services as this crisis continues.
Child and Family Services: Our child and family services teams have transitioned most of our clients to telehealth individual and telehealth group services – with one-on-one services for those who need them. We are continuing to serve our existing clients and are taking new clients who need services. In Anchorage: 907-762-8667. In Fairbanks: 907-371-1300.
Our Adult Teams have shifted most individual and all group services to tele-health. Three new on-lien groups for clients with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse will begin this week (Week of 3/30/2020). We have appointments available and are accepting new clients. Please call 907-563-1000 in Anchorage and 907-371-1300 in Fairbanks.
Alaska Seeds of Change continues to operate, with a limited work crew to reduce the risk of infection. Food production is an essential service. As a vocational training program for at-risk youth, with included mental health services, we know that we provide important structure and support for our participants. We continue to provide that support to our youth.
The POWER Center drop-in program continues to operate, screening participants for symptoms prior to entrance. The Center is a primary source of food and support for some of our city’s most vulnerable youth. The Center is still accepting food donations of shelf-stable foods at the Center, Monday-Thursday, 1- 5 pm. Most of the youth we are seeing are un-housed so portable snack foods and proteins like peanut butter are the most needed right now.
Thank you for your continued support as we all navigate these unprecedented times together.