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Texas Psychologists tout benefit of telehealth during Suicide Prevention Month

Texas psychologists are sharing resources and emphasizing the benefits of telehealth in supporting Texans’ mental health needs during September as the state and nation observe Suicide Prevention Month.

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Texans are self-quarantining, attending school virtually, and working from home, and many Texans are dealing with unprecedented job losses, underemployment or other financial hardships. These factors can potentially impact our mental health and be a contributing factor for suicide risk,” said Megan Mooney, Ph.D., President of the Texas Psychological Association.

The Texas Psychological Association noted that while factors associated with COVID-19 may increase risk, suicide is preventable. The association noted the importance and expanded use of telehealth in suicide prevention.

“The expansion of telehealth during the pandemic is an important leap forward in providing Texans with the mental health support they need during these challenging times. It can play a critical role in suicide prevention, as well,” added Dr. Mooney.

“Suicide Prevention Month provides an opportunity for us to come together in our families and our communities to reduce the stigma that often surrounds mental health and to shine a light on the warning signs and resources available to anyone who may be contemplating suicide,” said Kimberly Roaten, Ph.D., a member of the Texas Psychological Association’s Board of Directors.

“Telehealth is an important resource for navigating mental health concerns during COVID-19. It means we can see and help clients consistently during uncertain times and is just as effective as in-person treatment for many symptoms,” added Dr. Roaten. “If there’s one bright spot in the pandemic, it’s that we’re seeing greater awareness about mental health and expanding the use of telehealth to support patients who otherwise might not have access to treatment.”

The association notes that telehealth is not a new practice in Texas. Most mental health professionals have been trained on providing therapy and counseling services through telehealth platforms.

To learn about the work of the Texas Psychological Association in advocating for expansion of telehealth during COVID-19, visit https://www.texaspsyc.org/page/Covid19, which also offers up a wide range of online, in-person and telephone resources to support Texans’ mental health needs. 

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP, afsp.org). In 2018, at least 48,344 people in the U.S. died by suicide, and there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts, according to AFSP.

The AFSP encourages people to recognize suicide warning signs:

  • Talking about committing suicide
  • Having trouble eating or sleeping
  • Exhibiting drastic changes in behavior
  • Withdrawing from friends or social activities
  • Losing interest in school, work, or hobbies
  • Preparing for death by writing a will and making final arrangements
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Having attempted suicide before
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Having recently experienced serious losses
  • Seeming preoccupied with death and dying
  • Losing interest in his or her personal appearance
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use

If someone exhibits warning signs let him or her know that you are concerned and available to help. It is okay to ask directly about suicide risk – assessing for suicide risk does not increase the risk.

Having thoughts of suicide? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to 741741. These hotlines connect individuals in crisis to people trained to help and provide information about referrals, if needed.

Texas Suicide Prevention is a collaborative effort of community-based organizations, state and local agencies

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