Seeking Help: Resources for Clinical Anxiety, Mental Health Issues, and Addiction

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In this section:

Overwhelming anxiety right now is understandable during this uncertain time. We are all nervous about what this pandemic means for our present and future. Frontline providers face more direct threats and demands on their time. It’s easy in these circumstances for anxiety to escalate and affect our well being and ability to function. Those who struggle with substance use and abuse need extra support at this time. People already struggling with mental health issues will have further strain and challenges.

It’s important to do all you can with self care and support from friends and family. But when you feel you need professional help, you should not hesitate to reach out. Thankfully there are a number of resources available and referrals to providers when needed.

If your distress is impairing your ability to function, or putting you or others at risk, you should reach out as soon as possible. If you feel lonely and isolated, depressed, cannot sleep, or if your eating has changed dramatically (for example, if you have no appetite or are binge eating), reach out!

The Department of Psychiatry offers a wide variety of clinical and social support services at our locations across the Bay Area, including Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, the San Francisco VA Health Care System, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in Oakland and San Francisco, and a number of community-based clinics and programs. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are committed to maintaining and expanding our ability to help those in need of assistance through the use of telehealth services, as well as continuing in-person care when appropriate. 

In addition to the services we offer, here are some other important local resources for support.


Resources for UCSF community members

  • UCSF Employee Coping and Resiliency Program: A new program available to all UCSF faculty, staff, and trainees who are experiencing anxiety, stress, and distress related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on work and family life. The program uses a simple and confidential online screening tool to connect UCSF employees with a wide array of emotional support services, including access to person-to-person clinical assessment and treatment services and interventions for specific groups in need of specialized support.
  • UCSF Caring for the Caregiver Program: Offers peer-led support at UCSF to ensure that providers and staff are emotionally supported through the experience of patient care. Available to all health care team members at UCSF Health hospitals and clinic sites.
  • Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP): Free, confidential support for faculty and staff. All therapy sessions will be conducted via telemental therapy through a HIPAA-compliant platform or by phone. To make an appointment, call (415) 476-8279.
  • Student Health and Counseling Services: Free, confidential virtual consultation via Zoom. Support services can be accessed by calling (415) 476-1281. All visits will be conducted by phone or HIPAA-compliant Zoom meeting.
  • Spiritual Care Services provides 24/7 emotional and spiritual support for patients, families, and staff.
    • Parnassus/Mount Zion: (415) 353-1941
    • Mission Bay: (415) 514-4200
  • Faculty and Staff Assistance Program: (415) 476-8279
  • The Department of Medicine Behavioral Medicine Unit: Needs a referral from your provider via APEX, whereas direct phone is a slower route (415) 353-7900.
  • Palliative Care Clinic: (415) 514-1966.
  • Osher Center for Integrative Medicine: Classes for the public (mindfulness, laughter yoga) are online.
  • UCSF’s CARE Advocate: Free, confidential support to all members of the UCSF community affected by sexual assault, relationship or family violence, stalking, and/or sexual harassment. CARE Advocacy services continue to be available remotely. Video and phone appointments can be made by calling (415) 502-8802, texting (415) 640-9080, or emailing [email protected]. Additional information and resources to support coping and healing can be found on the CARE website.
  • UCSF Police Department: Provides timely responses to those experiencing crimes, including dating violence, domestic violence, sex offenses, and stalking. The UCSF Police Department encourages community members experiencing an emergency to immediately call 911 or (415) 476-6911. Members who are not experiencing emergencies can call (415) 476-1414. The UCSF Police Department is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
  • UC Health plan mental health resources: All of the UC Health plans for employees, postdoctoral scholars, residents, and fellows have expanded virtual options for behavioral health services in response to COVID-19.
  • Well-Being and Mental Health Resources for Residents and Clinical Fellows
     

Resilience and Emotional Well-Being Video Series


Resources for all (public and UCSF)

IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING A LIFE-THREATENING MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL 911 OR GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM.

Children and adolescents

Domestic violence

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: People who are surviving violence in their relationships and families may have increased isolation and danger caused by confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are living with an abuser and need a safer home situation, call (800) 799-7233, chat online at thehotline.org, or text LOVEIS to 22522.
  • Future Without Violence's Information on COVID-19 for Survivors, Communities, and DV/SA Programs: Another great resource for those living in homes where they don’t feel safe.
  • WOMAN, Inc.: A community-based, multi-service agency that serves survivors of domestic violence. It can be reached 24 hours a day at (877) 384-3578.
  • La Casa de las Madres: Available 24 hours a day and responds to requests for assistance from domestic violence survivors. It can be reached by phone at (877) 503-1850 or (877) 923-0700 and text message at (415) 200-3575. La Casa’s drop-in counseling center is closed at this time, but its shelter remains open.
  • Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (CROC): Free legal services and restraining order clinic for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Clinics are currently closed due to the shelter in place order; however, private appointments are available. The clinic can be reached at (415) 864-1790 or (415) 969-6711.
  • San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR): Provides resources, support, advocacy, and education to survivors of sexual abuse and violence. SFWAR is available to speak with survivors through its 24-hour hotline at (415) 647-7273.
  • Community United Against Violence (CUAV): Supports the healing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons who have experienced violence and abuse. CUAV is available to provide counseling remotely by phone and video services. It can be contacted by phone at (415) 333-HELP or email at [email protected].
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: Confidential 24-hour support for survivors of sexual assault. Trained staff can be reached at (800) 656-HOPE (4673) and through chat.
  • Trans Lifeline: Direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis. It can be reached at (877) 565-8860.
  • National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline: Has advocates available to provide 24-hour crisis intervention, education, information, and referral for deaf, deafblind, and deafdisabled survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through video phone at (855) 812-1001, (800) 787-3224 (TTY), chat, and email at [email protected].
     

Am I drinking too much? Resources for substance abuse and addiction

Alcohol use disorder

Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite negative social, work-related, or health consequences.

An estimated 15 million people in the United States have AUD. Approximately 5.8 percent, or 14.4 million adults, in the United States ages 18 and older had AUD in 2018. This includes 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women. Adolescents can be diagnosed with AUD as well, and in 2018, an estimated 401,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD.

To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Under DSM–5, the current version of the DSM, anyone meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of AUD — mild, moderate, or severe — is based on the number of criteria met.

To assess whether you or a loved one may have AUD, here are some questions to ask. In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?

If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change. A health professional can conduct a formal assessment of your symptoms to see if AUD is present. However severe the problem may seem, most people with AUD can benefit from treatment.

Ultimately, receiving treatment can improve an individual’s chances of success in overcoming AUD. The NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator can help you recognize and find high quality treatment for alcohol use disorder. If you drink excessively, seek medical help to plan a safe recovery as sudden abstinence after heavy, regular use can be life-threatening.

If you are not ready to seek treatment, consider using “harm reduction” — or a set of strategies intended to reduce the harm that alcohol may cause you and your loved ones. These strategies include things like never drinking on an empty stomach, alternating between alcohol and water or other non-alcohol drinks, and never driving when you are drinking (you might even consider giving your keys to someone). Reducing the amount you drink is important, but remember that if you are a heavy drinker (especially if you get shaky when you don’t drink), then you shouldn’t stop suddenly without medical supervision.

Talk with your doctor to determine the best course of action for you. For more information and options for support, see our resource listings below.

12-step and other group programs

Groups for family and friends

Treatment/facility locators

Harm reduction


Additional mental health resources

  • Talkspace: A fee-for-service enterprise that can pair you with an online licensed therapist, offering you 24/7 access to a licensed mental health professional from the comfort of your home via text message or video. Prices range from $65–$99 per week depending on communication mode. Talkspace does take some forms of insurance.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Techniques for Retraining Your Brain: UCSF professor Jason Satterfield has curated a series on CBT for anxiety, trauma, pain, and other issues. A free streaming trial is available, and you can also purchase video downloads. The audio version is available at Audible.com (free 30-day trial or for purchase). The entire course is available for free through the San Francisco Public Library on the Kanopy streaming service; all you need is your library card information.
  • Coa: A San Francisco-based mental health and emotional fitness company helping people around the world become more resilient and emotionally fit. During COVID-19, Coa is offering a series of free online workshops and therapist-led groups for stress, anxiety, and community.
  • 7Chairs: Provides professionally facilitated online emotional support groups. They have recently launched groups aimed at managing COVID-19 anxiety and stress. Groups meet for an hour once per week in real time. The first session is free and they have reduced the cost of COVID-19 groups to make them accessible to all.
  • Ginger: Ginger offers confidential, around-the-clock emotional support and guided self-care through your smartphone. Coaches are available to chat anytime, at a moment's notice—whether it's the middle of the night, a weekend or a holiday.
  • Prioritizing Eating Disorders Recovery and Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic: If someone in your family is struggling with an eating disorder, please see these tips and resources provided by the UCSF Eating Disorders Program.