When Covid-19 made safely practicing face-to-face medicine difficult, the Family Service League was able to pivot to telemedicine almost immediately -- and its mission of caring for people's mental health was suddenly more important than ever, as the pandemic began to take a toll on the emotional well-being of many.
There has "absolutely, definitely" been an increased demand for help, said Dr. Christian Racine, the Family Service League's senior clinical director.
"This has certainly not helped anyone's situation -- it imposed isolation and general anxiety that everyone is experiencing," he said. "It's going to make things worse for people who are inclined to anxiety or substance abuse."
The pandemic also meant more challenges for children, who would often be referred to the Family Service League by school social workers or psychologists. When children weren't in school anymore, it became harder to find those who needed help, but the organization continued its outreach efforts.
"We brought on some additional staffing . . . and we're looking to continue to provide telehealth," Dr. Racine said. "Postpandemic, this will absolutely become part of our normal treatment approach."
There are more bilingual services available, and in August, the organization's Riverhead office received "certified community behavioral health clinic" status from New York State. It allowed the Family Service League to take a more holistic approach by adding primary care services, substance abuse counselors, and a mobile crisis intervention unit.
"The staff has been wonderful, working virtually, managing child care, and doing all the things they have to deal with at home while still providing services," Dr. Racine said.