May 28, 2020

FSSA Chief: Mental Health Issues Up Amid Virus Outbreak

FILE PHOTO: Jake Harper/Side Effects Public Media

FILE PHOTO: Jake Harper/Side Effects Public Media
KEN KUSMER - Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana is experiencing more substance use disorders and other mental health issues amid the coronavirus outbreak, the state's human services chief said Wednesday.

Indiana experienced its highest monthly dispensation of the opioid antidote naloxone in April, with 1,306 uses, Jennifer Sullivan, secretary of the Family and Social Services Administration said during a state news briefing.

“We've never seen naloxone distribution like this before,” Sullivan said.

Year to date, nearly 1.5 percent of all emergency medical runs involve administration of naloxone, or Narcan, compared with less than 1 percent for the same period last year, she said..

The state announced last week it will use nearly $1 million in federal funds to pay for the distribution of naloxone to first responders, families, friends and others who are likely to be the first on the scene if someone overdoses. The money was made available by a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Naloxone is given when a person is showing signs of opioid overdose. It blocks the toxic effects of the overdose and is often the difference between a patient living and dying.

During then first few weeks of May, 211 local service operators took 57 domestic violence calls, 14 suicide or homicide calls, and made 732 referrals to mental health providers, Sullivan said. Domestic violence hotlines and 911 operators have recorded extraordinary increases in calls across the state, she said.

“Please keep calling. We are here,” Sullivan said.

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