Addressing pandemic challenges in mental health and substance abuse treatment

There’s no question, the coronavirus outbreak has been stressful for many of us with changing daily routines, financial challenges, and feeling isolated. Some may have been able to adapt, but for those struggling with existing mental health or substance abuse disorders, it was especially difficult. In uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to care for our well-being, and Community Care Services (CCS) had to quickly pivot to continue serving our clients and address the increased concerns of our community.


For more than 30 years, CCS has served Wayne County residents by providing outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment services. And for the first time in our history, we were unable to see our clients in our offices, provide transportation to their appointments or allow our staff to make home visits. Thankfully, we were approved by Medicaid and Medicare to offer TeleHealth services to make remote care easier for patients who were sheltering in place and unable to make in-person care visits. CCS went into high gear to train both our staff who were working remotely as well as our clients, helping them adjust to a video platform.


Around the same time, Wayne Integrated Health Network recognized the evolving issues surrounding COVID-19 and the growing need for urgent behavioral health services. To address this need, CCS was designated an Urgent Behavioral Health Care Services Provider.


Shortly into the quarantine, when nearly all businesses were forced to close, we realized that the hospitality industry was one that was especially hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis. We began an outreach effort to current and displaced hospitality workers struggling with existing or compounded mental health and substance abuse problems to contact CCS for immediate services. CCS designated therapists to offer assessments, individual therapy, and other behavioral health services through Telehealth services. Additionally, CCS offered case management services to identify needed referrals, assist with health benefits applications, and direct people to local and national programs.


Recently, we’ve been slowly and safely re-opening our main office in Lincoln Park. For clients without technology, we can offer urgent behavioral health services and provide them with help onsite to access TeleHealth appointments. Our primary objective throughout the pandemic was to ensure that if people are suffering, they know that help is still available. It may not be in the format they’re used to, but we will work with them to remove any barriers to care they may have so they have access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.


Over six months into this crisis, there are still a lot of unknowns right now. Community Care Services is here to listen, to offer hope and a path forward for those who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues.


Susan Kozak has been a licensed social worker for the past 35 years and currently serves as the executive director of Community Care Services, a position she has held since 2011. Stay tuned for her next entry in our Nonprofit Journal Project, an initiative inviting nonprofit leaders across Metro Detroit to contribute their thoughts via journal entries on how COVID-19 is impacting the nonprofit sector--and how they are innovating. This series is made possible with the generous support of our partners, the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Co.ACT.
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