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Framingham ‘Community Hour’ features health pros offering help during pandemic

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Evan Lee, Daily News Correspondent
MetroWest Daily News
May 7, 2020

FRAMINGHAM - While depression, anxiety and loneliness are experienced by many during a time of social distancing, help is available, according to panelists participating in a virtual “Community Hour” hosted this week by Mayor Yvonne Spicer.

Health professionals Diane Gould, of Advocates; Allison L. Parks, of Wayside MetroWest Community Services; and Izzy Rivera, of the Justice Resource Institute were invited to discuss mental health concerns with the public and take questions during the forum held Tuesday afternoon on Zoom.

Panelists emphasized that their organizations are ready and willing to help those who are suffering from depression or other issues during the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of stress in families and for individuals,” said Gould, president and CEO of Advocates. “We’re seeing people who are very isolated as a result of the stay-at-home order - people who are lonely and afraid and anxious.”

Adding to that stress are the uncertainties many now have about their jobs, as businesses remain closed, she said.

“With that comes not only loss of income and the daily structure of life for many people, but loss of identity, loss of self-confidence and pride,” Gould said.

Combined with isolation, these losses can lead to depression, substance abuse and even thoughts of suicide, she said.

But speaking for all three organizations represented in the forum, help is available, Gould added.

“If you are stressed, if you feel like it’s too much, or you’re really worried about someone you love or a neighbor, there is help available,” she said. “You can call us and we will be there for you.”

Advocates offers remote telehealth counseling sessions by phone and Zoom. Psychiatric emergency services are also available by phone for those experiencing mental health or emotional crises. Services and resources specifically for seniors are offered as well.