Itasca County Health Officials Address Mental Health Concerns Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Area Partners Have Developed a Website With a Plethora of Mental Health Resources

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – As of Friday, there are 11 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Itasca County.

While the numbers remain low compared to nearby St. Louis County (73 cases, 11 deaths), officials are seeing an increase in calls and outreach to local mental health service centers.

First Call for Help of Itasca County is a private, nonprofit community organization with a mission of providing free, confidential, and nonjudgmental crisis intervention services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The center is no longer taking walk-in visits, but with the help of many local partners, they have developed a website with dozens of resources available for residents experiencing challenges with mental health including anxiety, depression, and grief.

“Mostly noted is that the individuals calling in, many of them are first time users of this resource amid the ongoing pandemic. It’s putting them in a place they haven’t been before, they’re calling and requiring about resources and utilizing 2-1-1 for the first time,” said Cree Larson, Executive Director of First Call for Help 2-1-1.

Health officials are also reporting a decrease in referrals to local detox centers regarding chemical dependency, but do expect the numbers to rise once concerns over COVID-19 begin to level off.

“We do expect a significant increase in the need for treatment when this is all over. We believe people are still using alcohol and drugs, and maybe more excessively than in the past at home, alone. We are ready when things go back to normal to help people with those struggles as well,” said Angie Baratto, Chief Operations Officer for Northland Counseling.

Officials want to remind residents that social distancing doesn’t mean you have to physically isolate yourself from personal interactions.

They stress you should continue to call friends and family, get outdoors, and maintain at least six feet from other individuals.

Click here to access resources from the website Stable Embrace.

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