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How COVID-19 Is Putting More Pressure On LA’s Mental Health Care System

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People with mental illnesses who live in board and care homes are accustomed to venturing out for therapy sessions and group activities. But because of social distancing rules, many adult day programs have stopped providing those services.

“Now that the adult day centers are closed, the residents are there 24 hours a day,” said Barbara Wilson, a social worker who advocates for board and care homes.

The freezing of adult day programs is putting extra strain on people who run board and care homes, like Elizabeth Bijou, who operates a facility with six male adults.

“With that piece missing, they feel it, is all I can say. Everybody’s getting cabin fever times 10,” Bijou said.

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Bijou said it’s a struggle to keep her residents calm, with the stress-inducing COVID-19 news everywhere they look.

Lydia Missaelides, former Executive Director of the California Association for Adult Day Services, said she worries about the effects of isolation on people’s mental health, on their depression and anxiety. Some adult day centers have started offering check-ins and group sessions over the phone. But Missaelides said the in-person day programs are a lifeline for so many people.

These new pressures come as dozens of board and care homes have shuttered in the past few years due to funding issues that existed well before the pandemic.



Some resources from our friends at CalMatters:

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