CLEVELAND, Ohio — OhioGuidestone is one of the largest behavioral health community-based providers in the state. 

Its 800 clinicians and mental health specialists are connected to 35,000 clients across the state.

  • They developed a therapeutic phone tool to stay connected with clients
  • The tool is free
  • It mitigates potential exposure to the virus without sacrificing access to care

The organization's chief clinical officer, Benjamin Kearney, says COVID-19 restrictions have made it even more necessary to stay connected to those coping with mental health and substance use disorders. 
“Therapy and clinical interventions are vital that people feel connected. They have someplace that they can reach out to someone they can talk to. We know that in times of stress, mental health and behavioral health challenges become even a greater struggle, so we would expect anxiety levels to go up, we would expect depression levels to sink, and we would expect people that are dealing with addictions to feel an urge to use when they may not have a month or two ago,” Kearney said.  
Developed by OhioGuidestone's Institute of Family & Community Impact, the organization is offering a telehealth tool, at no cost, to help all behavioral health providers continue caring for their patients. 
“We sent it to every behavioral health provider in the state and all the mental health boards in the state and said use as you wish, help your clients get better as we all move through this together,” said Kearney.  
He says the tool mitigates potential exposure to the virus without sacrificing access to care — care that is in demand now more than ever.  
“There has been a number of calls that have increased, a number of people that have reached out to us for help, and so we are wanting to get the message out across the whole state of Ohio,” Kearney said.  
He says at all of the organizations’ clinicians have access to the tool, which includes behavioral health-recommended interventions for use via telehealth practice. 
“Things such as oppositional behavior in children, how to work on getting more sleep or being active, so we broke them up into 10 therapeutic interventions and about 20 psycho educational interventions,” said Kearney.  
And additional instructions to help providers 

feel more comfortable connecting with clients over the phone and internet.  
“It’s for the clinician so they know what to do in these sessions with telehealth. They might have felt unsure on how to have therapeutic conversations via video conferencing because they may not have ever done it before. They may, they may get distracted by using video conferencing,” he said.  
Kearney says the tool will help those most at risk of toxic stress, anxiety and depression get through this uncertain time.  
“We’re going to get through this together, that there will be tomorrows and tomorrows will be good, this is a challenge, but it's an opportunity for us to become closer and stronger and even more complex in the way we build our relationships,“ Kearney said.