CLM offers support, stability during trying times

TIM JEAN/File photoAngels of Addiction artwork by by Anne Marie Farley Zanfagna of Plaistow made up a display last year at Center for Life Management in Derry, part of the mental health facility's "Art From the Heart" art therapy program. Officials are stressing ongoing support and help for the community during these challenging times.

A local mental health facility wants the public to know all is still in place and ready for offering services and support during current trying times.

The Center for Life Management, or CLM, with facilities in both Derry and Salem, has been providing comprehensive behavioral health care to the region for more than 50 years and officials and staff there say the current climate offers additional challenges for supporting those in need of all ages.

That includes more services being delivered via Teleheath, phone or video, including services typically office-based like therapy sessions and medical visits, case management services and functional support services. It's a very transformational time, officials say.

Steven Arnault, CLM's vice president of clinical services, said issues dealing with the new coronavirus, along with the regular every day challenges clients face adds additional stress.

When the virus hit and individuals and families began remaining at home, Arnault said CLM moved forward with a strong action plan to make sure services went uninterrupted.

That included identifying the most vulnerable clients over the age of 60 who were dependent on the facility's services for many types of support including therapy, housing, shopping and other services.

Other age groups were also targeted for changes in the way CLM handles its clientele, with more video conferences and programs scheduled through Telehealth.

Some clients still need to be seen in person, Arnault said.

"It's very hard to do a therapy session on the phone with a 4-year-old," he said, adding children and teenagers make up about 1,700 of CLM's numbers in the past year.

And not all clients have access to technology, Arnault said. And the isolation now in place can also cause added stress to those already were struggling.

"We are seeing an uptick in people needing services," he said.

Arnault credited the CLM staff for a "phenomenal" way of supporting those in need.

"CLM has an incredible infrastructure and work force," he said "We were ready to deploy Telehealth intervention and roll it out in less than a week."

Staff also had to write new policies and go through additional training to make the new normal at the facility work, Arnault said.

CLM staff want communities to know they are still operating to provide services to clients and are taking new calls and appointments via Teleheath.

"In particular, it's important that the community is aware that 24/7 emergency services remain available," said Laurie Ota, CLM director of marketing and communications.

CLM serves thousands of children, adolescents, adults and seniors through clinical and medical services, case management, functional support services, supportive housing and homeless outreach, integrated care, substance use treatment as well as 24-hour psychiatric emergency services.

Arnault encourages anyone needing support at this time to stay connected however they can to friends and family, turn off the constant barrage of media reports and find ways to stay busy and well. CLM also offers online wellness options for clients to do yoga and learn about other health activities.

"It's about staying connected the best you can," Arnault said. "And turn off the news."

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