A local counselor has started an open Facebook page where he offers coping skills, tips and discussions about mental health and recovery for people who need it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It takes people so long to recover, to get the mindset of recovery,” said David Brooks, clinical director and owner of Brooks Behavioral Health Services. “I tell people recovery is like skating up a hill and, if you stop moving your feet, you most likely are going to roll backwards and so with that, I don’t want people to roll backwards during this time.”
Brooks still sees his clients via tele-health meetings but is unable to hold any face-to-face meetings. For the privacy of participants, he didn’t want to lead virtual meetings, which he believes are valuable but difficult to control, so he created The Cadillac Counselor.
Brooks sees clients with substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders with a focus on criminogenics, which examines why people commit crimes. He works with both adolescents and adults. He also serves people who experience homelessness.
“Clients were doing wonderful,” he said, speaking about the time prior to COVID-19.
And now, he’s noticed an increase in relapses.
“People just haven’t been able to go to meetings,” Brooks said. “They’ve been doing virtual meetings but if they don’t really have a social network of people who contact them and call them and want to know where they’re at, a lot of them have been relapsing because they’re just stuck in the house with no accountability.”
He also noted that clients who are experiencing homelessness or elderly clients may not have access to or may struggle to use phones or computers, which could connect them to tele-health services or virtual meetings.
Brooks said the major issue right now is the unknown.
“It seems like every time that you watch the news they keep pushing the dates further back so I think that’s what’s bringing people anxiety more than anything, which then leads to depression,” he said.
This unknown can then be paired with job loss, financial difficulties and much more free time than people are used to.
“Most people that come out of recovery, the first aspect, especially the criminogenic need, is a job. So you get that person a job, a 40-hour [a week] job so that they cannot have so much free time but then all of a sudden that job is taken from them, so now they have 40 hours of free time that they've never quite thought about needing to work on,” Brooks said. “So I think it’s a shock.”
He said situations people aren’t prepared for can lead to relapses.
Each of these considerations led Brooks to start The Cadillac Counselor.
He does a Facebook Live everyday at noon to talk about coping skills and helpful tips. On Monday, he talked about death and spoke to people about understanding that relapsing can leave people they care about to pick up the pieces.
Other subjects include the difference between anxiety and fear and coping with mental health problems, topics and time he hopes will help brighten people’s days and encourage them to stay in recovery.
“Anybody [can join the page],” Brooks said, adding that the page is for family members of people with addiction, people with substance abuse disorders, people with mental health disorders and anyone who wants to know more information.
As for the response he’s gotten, Brooks sums it all up in one story.
“Somebody watched … one of my videos and called and left a message at like 2 o’ clock in the morning for a session, to want to start working with me,” he said. “That was awesome and my wife said ‘...if we’re doing that just for that one person, that’s good enough.’”
Brooks said it’s not about what he’s paid, it’s about helping his community.
“I don’t want to see anybody die,” he said. “I just want to do everything that I can do at least from my house.”
Brooks said he hopes that his page helps save someone’s life.
“If it saves a life that doesn’t have to be Narcaned or have the coroners come and pick the body up, if that works, I think that’s that only thing ... another thing is to give parents and family members hope.”