ST. CLOUD -- For many people these days social distancing has translated to social isolation. Meanwhile, places like the Central Minnesota Mental Health Center haven't been able to meet face-to-face with their clients.

Executive Director Dr. Richard Lee says they're doing their best with hundreds of telephone conferences each week, and they are ramping up video conferences.

We had been doing a very small percentage of our work in person, but we expect for that to completely shut down by the end of this week.

Lee says what they may learn after the coronavirus pandemic is over, is that teleconferences will become a regular tool that they continue to use.

I think in many many cases, not for kids probably, but for adults, the video conferencing platform may be just as effective as coming into the office.

He says if people who are stressed and struggling don't seek help often times its first responders who end up interacting with them.

If law enforcement gets called on a mental health situation it is absolutely not uncommon, at least historically, for the person to be delivered to the emergency room for evaluation.

Lee says the Central Minnesota Mental Health Center hasn't seen a surge in calls for help yet, but he says people who are not regular clients may not know that there are organizations like theirs available to help.

If you want to reach out to them:
Central Minnesota Mental Health Center Crisis Number: (320) 253-5555
Main Number: (320) 252-5010

Meanwhile, the Central Minnesota Mental Health Center is in desperate need of about 400 reusable handmade masks for their staff and clients in their residential programs, if you are able to donate them.

CentraCare is also offering video visits for mental health concerns.  These visits are available to established or new patients.  To schedule a visit to address stress, coping, and mental health concerns call (320) 255-6677.

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