Seniors can get free mental health services if they've suffered a loss, need help grieving

Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 18:35:06-04

Many seniors were not able to say goodbye to their loved ones or friends who may have died from COVID-19, but free mental health services are now available.

"When somebody dies that you loved, how can you not be effected by it?" asked Dr. Stacy Orloff, Empath Health's Vice President of Innovation and Community Health.

Orloff says it's so important to talk to someone when you've lost a loved one, especially when we're self isolating because of the pandemic.

"Just the opportunity to talk to another person who can say, 'I get you. I understand. Here's some ideas and suggestions about what you may be able to do to feel less alone,'" she explained.

Since the coronavirus began, many have not been able to say goodbye to a loved one in a nursing home, at a hospital or going to a funeral, making it difficult to process someone passing away.

So Empath Health has received a grant to offer free mental health services to anyone 55 or older in Pinellas County.

"It doesn't have to be a COVID death but the fact that our pandemic has made it challenging for them to cope with their grief and loss," she said.

Someone grieving may only need one therapy session others may need to come weekly.

It just depends on the individual.

"There's not really a cookie cutter approach because grief and loss is not the same for everybody. And so our services are tailor-made for each individual client that we serve," she explained.

And if you think you don't need help because you're strong enough, Orloff says think again.

"It's a sign of strength I think to say to somebody I need a little bit of help," she said.

The free mental health services for seniors in Pinellas County can be virtual or in person. They also offer group therapy or individual.

Just go to Empath Health's website.

You can also call the counseling center directly at 727-523-3451.