News & Announcements

Phoebe Behavioral Health Can Help You Deal With The Stresses of 2020


Albany, Ga. – Even in an era of extreme division, everyone can agree that 2020 has been a difficult year.  In southwest Georgia, we are now in our ninth month of dealing with COVID-19.  Unfortunately, fears about the pandemic have led many people to put off care they need.  “We understand people are anxious.  They should be cautious and try to minimize potential exposure to the virus, but delaying care can be harmful,” said Derek Heard, MD, Medical Director of Primary Care for Phoebe Physicians.  “Phoebe and other healthcare providers have gone to great lengths to create safe environments for patients, and no one should delay necessary healthcare.  Now, more than ever, it’s important to manage chronic conditions, seek immediate care for urgent issues and pay attention to your mental health.”

Dr. Heard has seen a significant increase in patients suffering from new or worsening mental health conditions.  “This pandemic is stressful, and it’s only natural to be fearful.  Combine that with a sense of loneliness, isolation and uncertainty many people are feeling, and it’s easy to understand why more people may find themselves dealing with anxiety or depression,” Dr. Heard said.  “Primary care physicians are often the first providers to notice those changes in our patients.  It’s important for us to talk to patients about their mental health, so we can help address problems or refer them for further treatment.”

Phoebe Behavioral Health offers a variety of mental health services for adults, adolescents and children.  Their team includes psychiatrists, psychiatric-certified advanced practice providers, nurses and therapists.  “This time of year can be especially difficult.  Even in good times, the holidays are stressful.  We may feel pressure to do more than we have time to handle or spend more money than we can afford, and we may miss lost loved ones more acutely,” said Henry Sakow, MD, Phoebe Behavioral Health Psychiatrist.  “Coming in the middle of a pandemic and on the heels of demonstrations over racial injustice and a contentious election, many people may find this holiday season even more challenging, and they should not ignore those feelings,” Dr. Sakow added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the additional stress you may be feeling these days could cause:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Worsening of mental health conditions.
  • Increased use of tobacco and/or alcohol and other substances.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.  Those who may respond more strongly to stress should not hesitate to reach out for help.  “Just sitting down with a therapist and talking through what is causing you to feel stressed, anxious or depressed can have a major positive impact on your emotional wellbeing.  At Phoebe Behavioral Health, we offer in-person and telehealth visits, as well as group therapy sessions in a compassionate, caring and supportive environment,” said Ursula Wright, LCSW, Phoebe Behavioral Health Therapist. 

In addition to appointments at Phoebe Behavioral Health in Albany, behavioral health specialists see patients at Phoebe Worth Family Medicine in Sylvester and services will be offered at Phoebe Primary Care & Sports Medicine of Americus beginning in January.

Phoebe Behavioral Health also provides an Intensive Outpatient Program for patients who need more treatment than what is involved with traditional outpatient clinic visits.  Phoebe’s Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit provides services to patients ages 18 and older who have been diagnosed with an acute psychiatric illness and need immediate intervention.  The main Phoebe Emergency Center also includes a behavioral health triage area.  All behavioral health emergency patients are evaluated there by trained behavioral health staff and referred to the most appropriate setting for treatment.

The CDC says healthy ways to cope with stress include:

  • Taking care of your emotional health.
  • Taking breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories.
  • Taking care of your body – including, eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding excessive alcohol and drug use.
  • Making time to unwind.
  • Connecting with others.
  • Connecting with your community or faith-based organizations.

“Even under the difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic, the holidays can be a joyous time,” Dr. Sakow said.  “We certainly want to be here to help people enjoy this time of year and find the good mental health they seek.”