Behavioral hospital has hotline, offers help

The Lower Rio Grande Valley’s primary behavioral health provider has a crisis hotline to help people deal with the stress and anxiety caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The crisis line, (956) 365-2600, is available around the clock through Palms Behavioral Health, a 94-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital in Harlingen. Palms offers free assessments and inpatient and outpatient services for adolescents, adults and seniors.

“We can answer questions about mental health issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak and are happy to do so,” clinical director David Estringel said Wednesday via email. “Our services are so important during this very anxiety-provoking situation and we want to ensure our community that they can turn to us for help.”

Estringel said Palms has been fielding questions similar to other mental health organizations around the country as the virus outbreak has unfolded.

“Things have changed drastically in a very short period of time. It has turned people’s lives upside down and we are here to help them,” he said. “People just need to reach out to us and call. Like every other fully licensed hospital, if a community member needs inpatient or outpatient services there is a fee, but the majority is covered by insurance.”

Estringel said being told to shelter in place can be stressful for families, with everyone cooped up together and unable to attend to their daily routines.

“Think about the stories that appear during the holidays when families are all together and it brings out all different emotional responses — Some positive and some negative based on family dynamics. For many, this pandemic has created fear and additional financial and emotional stress. The good news is that we are here to help …Palms Behavioral Health offers therapeutic programs for increased depression, anxiety, stress, and substance abuse,” he said.

Estringel agreed it is best to stay calm.

“This is a major crisis and over time it will resolve,” he said. “Find the positives. For every crisis we need to help the whole person — body, mind and spirit to keep the person healthy. We are here to help… Please take us up on our resources and allow us to partner with our community to help all heal.”

Estringel added that people can call the hotline or walk in for a free assessment. Palms Behavioral Health is at 613 Victoria Lane in Harlingen.

Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 Palms says on its website, that it has curtailed person-to-person consultations for the next two weeks in favor of video conferencing.