The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be a source of great stress and upheaval — but there is help available for residents in the community.

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The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be a source of great stress and upheaval — but there is help available for residents in the community.

Alicja Carter, wellness director for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery, said the local nonprofit has continued operations as it follows CDC guidelines and social distancing practices.

For the last 37 years, local nonprofit Gateway to Prevention and Recovery has been dedicated to preventing and treating substance use and mental health disorders.

Though Gateway’s satellite treatment offices in Seminole and Lincoln County have been closed, its treatment office, at 1010 E. 45th Street, remains open to assist those walking in for the first time, as well as patients who require drug testing, she said.

“The majority of Gateway providers work from home and continue to offer services to patients over the phone or through video conferencing,” she said. “Patients receive contact from Gateway staff members multiple times a week to engage in individual and group sessions, receive resources and obtain encouragement.”

The additional stress and isolation brought upon by the coronavirus can have a significantly negative impact on individuals struggling with substance use and mental health disorders. Since the middle of March, Carter said Gateway counselors have noticed patients reporting a rise in unemployment, thoughts of using, domestic abuse, and self-harm or suicidal thinking.

Connie Dockrey, Gateway’s clinical director, said Gateway has responded to these needs by extending counseling services to all community members, sharing hotline information and providing regular suicide intervention training and support for all staff members.

“Gateway staff report that most patients are extremely grateful to maintain regular contact with their counselors and one another,” she said. “The individuals are using this time to connect, practice their coping skills and push through this difficult time.”

As well as continuing with treatment services, Carter said Gateway providers link patients to virtual 12-step meetings, readings, meditations and even workouts.

The pandemic threat affects everyone.

It is inevitable that Gateway staff also has been impacted, she said.

“In response to COVID-19, Gateway leadership has worked creatively and efficiently to follow CDC guidelines for safety, apply for relief funding, and ensure that staff members have the resources needed to work from home,” Dockrey said.

Gateway leadership offers tech support, conducts regular well-being checks and shares personal wellness opportunities on a daily basis, she said.

“In the face of the coronavirus, Gateway presses on with the same values that the organization was founded on nearly 37 years ago,” she said. “We believe that every life matters and that when local people work together to solve local problems we can always expect hope.”

For help

To get support for a substance use or mental health issue, call (405) 273-1170 x0 before coming in to schedule an assessment. There are no copays at this time.

To speak to a professional about the challenges being facing since the COVID-19 outbreak, call (405) 273-1170 x0, Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. free of charge.

Beginning April 20, anyone can connect to Help! Kids are Home Support Group via ZOOM, thanks to Partners in Caring, a collaborative healthcare team serving Lincoln and South Pottawatomie Counties. View Gateway to Prevention and Recovery on Facebook for meeting details.

“Like” Gateway to Prevention on Facebook for daily updates on local resources as well as Wellness in Recovery activities and encouragement.

For more assistance, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1(800) 273-1855 or text HELLO to 741741. These calls are 24/7, free and confidential.