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Omicron intensified mental health challenges in WNY. Here's how you can address them

Buffalo News - 1/14/2022

Jan. 14—If you think the recent holiday season presented more than its share of mental health and addiction challenges, you would be right, according to Spectrum Health and Human Services.

Calls to the agency's crisis line increased 31% during the season compared with 2020. Those who asked for related services jumped 48% in December over the same month a year earlier. They were up 27% overall in 2021 from the previous year.

"The main concerns we have been seeing are an increase in depression and anxiety due to the stress of the holidays and due to Covid," said Georgina Volanis, Spectrum Health director of emergency services. "We have been getting some calls on children that are in quarantine due to testing positive and having anxiety due to the isolation of quarantine. We have also had an increase in calls regarding suicidal thoughts."

—Write down steps and activities to take good care of mind and body.

—Enlist family and friends by telling them about your plan — and ask for their support if you need someone to talk to and encourage you.

—Anticipate that there will be the disappointment of cancellations for social events and outings. Plan online social gatherings or family activities to offset those losses.

—Limit overeating and alcohol consumption. Instead, treat yourself through healthy activities such as a new book or streaming movie, or relaxing activities such as a hot bubble bath.

—Write out positive affirmations that you can read when needed to bolster your spirits.

If it nears the point when someone appears a danger to themselves or others, it's time to reach out any time to Crisis Services at 716-834-3131 or call 911.

Otherwise, the following resources can build a bridge to better mental health:

NY Project Hope: 844-863-9314; Created to address Covid-related mental health challenges, the website features tips, online wellness support and connection to related resources statewide.

24-hour Addiction Hotline: 716-831-7007

24-hour Erie County Domestic Violence Hotline: 716-862-HELP (4357)

24-hour Emergency Mental Health Mobile Response Services (for 18 and over): 716-834-3131

Spectrum Crisis & Re-Stabilization Emergency Services (CARES): 716-882-4357; for youth and their families and caretakers. Its new urgent care clinic is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. People are welcome to drop in or call 716-539-6743 for more information.

Alcoholics Anonymous: 716-598-4827,; the website can help you find a support group, including online.

Buffalo Area Narcotics Anonymous Helpline: 716-878-2316,; the organization can help you find a support group, also including online.

Best Self Behavioral Health: 716-884-0888,

BryLin Behavioral Health: 716-886-8200, 716-632-5450,

Catholic Charities: 716-856-4494,

Child and Family Services: 842-2750,

Christian Counseling Ministries of WNY: 632-3200,

Community Health Center of Buffalo: 986-9199,

Dale Association: 433-1886,

Endeavor Health Services: 895-6700,

Erie County Medical Center: Those in need of services can visit, call the Comprehensive Emergency Psychiatric Program (CPEP) at 898-1676 or contact the Help Center at 898-3415.

Evergreen Health: 847-2441,

Compeer of Greater Buffalo: 883-3331, Ext. 314 or email; mental health peer support

Horizon Health Services: 831-1800;

NAMI Helpline: 226-6264;

Spectrum Health and Human Services: 539-5500;

Mental Health Advocates of WNY Resources Guide:


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