LEWISTON – Tri-County Mental Health Services announced Tuesday that it would close its outpatient offices and provide services by phone or Skype.

Jamie Owens, chief development officer of Tri-County Mental Health Services, said the outpatient service locations in Lewiston, Bridgton, Farmington, Oxford and Rumford, would be closed through March 30.

Group mental health services will also be closed, along with the Social Learning Center, an office of Tri-County Mental Health Services that helps prepare people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for independence in their homes and communities.

Owens added that the residential group homes in Lewiston, Rumford and Sabattus and support living services in Lisbon will remain open, with travel restrictions for residents and visitor restrictions.

“We believe that taking these steps is necessary for the greater good and will be making revisions to our operational plans as needed to assure we’re meeting the health and safety needs of all,” she said.

With the closure and restrictions being put in place by many mental health facilities, some licensed mental health providers have been sharing strategies for improving mental health and alleviating stress and anxiety during isolation or social distancing.

Jennifer Pelletier, the manager of outpatient and community-based services at Tri-County Mental Health Services, said she has been telling people to “engage in things that have (relieved stress) in the past.”

She also suggested that people find someone they trust or a loved one to talk to on the phone or over Skype as a means to feel better.

Pelletier said if people do not have a loved one or close friend they can talk to, they can call The Intentional Warm Line at 1-866-771-9276.

According to its website, it’s a toll-free support line for adults offering conversations with a peer specialist with experience in mental health recovery.

“They have a good understanding of how to talk with people about stress and anxiety,” Pelletier said. “We also have clinicians here at Tri-County who can talk with people.”

Other methods to de-stress and deal with anxiety related to coronavirus, according to Pelletier, is to “take some time away from the TV or social media and get some fresh air.”

“There’s so much news going around on Facebook, TV, and other forms of social media that it can feel overwhelming,” Pelletier said. “Step away from the media, take a deep breath and focus on calming thoughts.”

Mary Gagnon, training and clinical development specialist at Health Affiliates Maine in Auburn, said for many, “the current situation might bring up already-existing anxiety or depression,” while for others, “anxiety or depression may develop as we face uncertainty, isolation, and information overload, information that is often conflicting and changing hour to hour.”

She suggested that if people decide to use social media, “use it for good.”

“Find positive blogs or posts, funny or adorable videos, or people who keep things positive,” Gagnon said. “There are many (livestreamed) events happening now that you can join, such as free tours of museums, zoos and aquariums.”

Reminding oneself that “this too shall pass” is another way to cope with the stress, Gagnon said.

“This is big and frightening now, but we won’t be in this state of emergency forever,” Gagnon continued. “Do what you need to do now so you can do what you love to do later.”

Gagnon said something as simple as “taking three deep breaths, from your diaphragm, not the top of your lungs, can reset your nerves and help you feel calmer.”

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