VIDEO: Dayton Daily News virtual meeting about mental health during holidays, pandemic

To say that 2020 has been stressful is an understatement.

A contentious election that continues to cause headlines. Social unrest following the death of George Floyd under a police officer’s knee. A pandemic that has claimed nearly 240,000 American lives, including more than 5,520 in Ohio.

Lisa Balster, Ohio’s Hospice’s director of patient and family support services
Lisa Balster, Ohio’s Hospice’s director of patient and family support services

The Dayton Daily News held the next session in its series of virtual town hall meetings on Tuesday.

Dayton Daily News Community Conversations: Handling Hard Times streamed live on the Dayton Daily News Facebook page.

It is part of a partnership with the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association and will feature mental health care professionals and other experts.

Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, said the pandemic has been challenging for everyone.

“The stress of this global pandemic is causing enormous pressure on individuals and families,” she said. “Many people are still adjusting to the anxiety caused by the precautions we must take to protect ourselves and each other from COVID-19. A necessary action, such as social distancing, can make it difficult to have the traditional interactions we expect with our friends and support systems.”

Beth Esposito, Samaritan Behavioral Health’s president
Beth Esposito, Samaritan Behavioral Health’s president

The upcoming holidays add an additional layer of stress, she said.

“That’s why it is so important to hear from the behavioral health and substance abuse leaders in our community,” Hackenbracht said. “These professionals are committed to helping each of us understand how we can each cope with these new stressors in healthy ways, the different types of behavioral health and substance abuse resources that are available in our community, and how to access that help when it is needed.”

Julie Manuel, Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center’s clinical program manager
Julie Manuel, Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center’s clinical program manager

Credit: Lee Ann Yahle

Credit: Lee Ann Yahle

The hourlong conversation was hosted by Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson.

“The Dayton Daily News aims to provide information that will help our community cope with these unprecedented times,” Robinson said.

The panel includes:

  • Lisa Balster, Ohio’s Hospice’s director of patient and family support services
  • Julie Manuel, Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center’s clinical program manager
  • Dr. Brian Merrill, OneFifteen’s assistant medical director
  • Beth Esposito, Samaritan Behavioral Health’s president
  • Mary Beth DeWitt, Dayton Children’s Hospital’s director of psychology
Dr. Brian Merrill, OneFifteen’s assistant medical director
Dr. Brian Merrill, OneFifteen’s assistant medical director

Credit: William Jones

Credit: William Jones

Topics will include:

  • The importance of grieving and existing bereavement services.
  • Challenges for older adults as requests for distancing and isolation continue.
  • Children’s issues in navigating the changes to their school/family structure and need for resiliency.
  • The increase in substance abuse as COVID-19 continues and people seek solace.
Mary Beth DeWitt,  Dayton Children’s Hospital’s director of psychology
Mary Beth DeWitt, Dayton Children’s Hospital’s director of psychology

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