Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee addresses COVID-19′s ‘collateral impact’ on mental health

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 9:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Coronavirus doesn’t just threaten your physical health. The disease can also take a real toll on your mental health.

Governor Bill Lee talked about ways the state is helping Tennesseans get through these tough times.

Governor Lee calls it “collateral impact” -- the damage this disease does to our minds, not just to our bodies. He addressed the mental health component of the state’s response to coronavirus earlier Tuesday.

“Last Friday, I was stunned to learn we had eight suicides in Knox County in one day," said Lee. "COVID-19 is a viral pandemic, but its also a pandemic that can produce hopelessness in people when they’re faced with losing their jobs, or losing their business or losing their health or losing their parent. It’s an imminent threat to the lives and livelihoods of our neighbors. And my administration wants to be particularly committed to providing resources that provide a lifeline to Tennesseans who find themselves in a particularly challenging place with regard to mental health.”

The governor says the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is working with local providers to expand telehealth services. And to get more masks for mental health workers who come face to face with patients.

The federal government awarded Tennessee a grant to provide mobile behavioral health care units for rural counties. The state is partnering with local non-profits to operate the mobile units.

And there’s a 24/7 crisis hotline, just call 855-274-7471 or 855-CRISIS-1.

The state and local health providers offer the Behavioral Health Safety Net in all 95 counties.

Vital mental health services are available for Tennesseans 18 and older who are uninsured and who are at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

That would be individuals whose household income is less than $17,200 a year or $35,0000 or less for a family of four.

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