As pandemic-induced behavioral health and substance abuse issues increase across the state, Agassiz Associates PLLC is participating in a statewide program that seeks to connect people with needed resources and providers.

The effort to pair up people with service providers stems from a state grant for behavioral health providers that makes use of federal funding. The Emergency Grants to Address Mental and Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19 program seeks to bolster providers in their efforts and comes at a time when clinicians at Agassiz Associates are busy assisting their clients.

“There's been a lot of research recently about how the pandemic is negatively influencing people's mental health,” said Heidi Jensen, co-owner of Agassiz Associates, adding that increased substance abuse is one of the issues. “I think that one of the things that we've noticed here in North Dakota is that people right now are kind of in survival mode.”

Agassiz Associates has created a COVID CARE program that is available to adult North Dakota residents. The program is for people with mental health and substance use concerns that have been impacted by COVID-19. The program also is available to those without health insurance.

A variety of services are available through COVID CARE, including direct telehealth treatment, information on providers, case management and assistance with applying for health insurance.

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Staff members at Agassiz Associates report they have seen an increase in people dealing with issues, including anxiety, isolation, loneliness and depression. Added stress from the pandemic makes dealing with these issues more difficult than normal.

“It exacerbates stress, exacerbates symptoms and exacerbates everything they have to cope with,” said Rebecca Green, co-owner of Agassiz Associates, who is overseeing coordination of the grant. “Something that normally you might cope with day to day is not that big of a deal, but, when you're in a pandemic, it becomes more stressful.”

Information on the COVID CARE program can be found by visiting www.agassizassociates.com, then clicking on the COVID-19 ND Resources button. Call Agassiz Associates at (701) 746-6336. Send email to agassizstaff@agassizassociates.com. Information on available resources also be found at www.behavioralhealth.nd.gov.

Individuals who are in crisis or are feeling suicidal can get immediate support by calling (800) 273-8255 (TALK), or by visiting www.myfirstlink.org, and clicking on GET HELP NOW.

Due to the pandemic, Agassiz Associates is operating online through telehealth sessions. Assistance is available for those with internet connectivity issues, or for those who need help using the technology.

“If you're impacted by COVID-19, which I think most of us qualify in that, then they're available, and we have available resources for them,” Green said.