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Mental Health & COVID-19

Courtesy Gryphon Place

The coronavirus pandemic has people feeling anxious and isolated. But a mental health agency in Kalamazoo says there are ways to cope.

Maricela Alcala is the CEO of Gryphon Place. It runs the 211 crisis and suicide prevention line in Kalamazoo County. Alcala says it's a good idea to stay connected with friends and family by phone, email, or social media.

"And also, if you yourself are not struggling but you know of somebody that might be struggling with their mental health, check in on them. Send them a text, a phone call, maybe just something saying, 'I'm thinking of you,' and making sure that we're still connected."

Alcala also says, if you're working from home, try to keep to a regular routine.

Credit Gryphon Place
Gryphon Place
Maricela Alcala

"Look at workouts online or try to do some sort of physical activity within your house. Try to continue to eat healthy. I actually am also working from home during this time because we want to make that all of our staff are healthy to take all of these calls, and even dressing as if I'm going to work, even though I'm working in my home and not in the office."

Although Gryphon Place has closed its office because of the pandemic, Alcala says service to the community has not been interrupted. She says the number of calls coming in has gone up.

"We have people dialing 211 asking for more information about the virus. And we're updating with information from the CDC regularly. We have people who are now calling to volunteer to support community organizations that probably don't have enough staff to, for example, bag food. And we're also getting calls from those individuals that just need some additional support and to talk to somebody."

Alcala says anyone in the Kalamazoo area needing emotional support can call (269) 381-HELP (4357).

Non-profit groups in Kalamazoo County are gearing up to meet increased demand for services during the corona virus pandemic. Gryphon Place is the coordinator of the Kalamazoo County Response Consortium. It helps coordinate local responses to emergencies. Alcala says its members have been talking about how to help the community as fundraising becomes harder.

"We've talked about food. We talked about child care. We talked about mental health, and making sure that whoever is needing those supports that they are available but also providing to the organizations the capacities that they need to be able to provide the service."

The consortium includes non-profits, local governments, and business leaders.

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.
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