Everyone can tell a different story about how COVID-19 is impacting their lives. Many fell ill or know someone who did, others lost jobs and are struggling to pay their bills. Many more are simply feeling isolated and even depressed while they do their part to help slow COVID-19’s spread.
NorthShore Health Centers is offering those feeling the weight of COVID-19 counseling services carried out by their expert mental health staff, a program they started offering in addition to their substance abuse counseling services as the pandemic began gaining momentum in the Region. Initially, they focused on how they could help their existing patients.
“When COVID-19 first began, we immediately shifted to telehealth sessions,”said Allen Grecula, social worker and substance abuse counselor at NorthShore Health Centers. “It was a big shift for us because we had to put our group therapy sessions on hold. We’d always incorporate the arts, music, and cooking into our time with patients, but we knew that our folks needed to continue being seen.”
As they adjusted to the process, Grecula and the rest of the mental health team started adding more ways to help.
“It’s kind of grown and morphed into new levels, and we’re doing group telehealth sessions, which is a first for us,” he said. “It was really helpful in making people feel connected. Now with the restrictions lightening up, we’re getting back to incorporating art and music into sessions because it’s really important to have some kind of creative outlet available.”
Anxiety about your health, feelings of loneliness, and stress about income are things almost everyone is battling.
“Some of that anxiety is fear of the unknown. No one’s really been here before,” Grecula said. “At NorthShore, we offer a holistic approach where you can see a physician and psychiatrist and work with us in one place. We can help alleviate your concerns and rule out some of those unknowns.”
Anyone can schedule time with the NorthShore team. You do not need to have a substance abuse problem or any other kind of condition.
“At the end of the day, we’re here to help people get through tough times,” he said. “Our COVID counseling is open to the public. Whether we help you with simple things like basic coping skills or more complex issues, our goal is to empower people.”
To get involved with the program, anyone interested can self-schedule an appointment online at northshorehealth.org, or they can call 219-763-8112. Grecula noted that feedback surrounding the program so far has been positive.
“I think for many it’s just been a great relief to have someone to connect with,” he said. “It’s a way to get out of your own head and find a sense of hope.”