Agencies see increased needs due to COVID pandemic - substance abuse support services are still available in Oswego County

OSWEGO — People across the nation are struggling with increases in depression, anxiety, trauma and grief as a result of the prolonged COVID-19 national crisis, and service providers are seeing an increase in the number of Americans grappling with substance abuse and mental disorders.

In Oswego County, there are several agencies ready to help residents cope with substance abuse and anxiety issues.

“Our current physical health and economic crisis can also have a devastating impact on emotional health and safety,” said Nicole Kolmsee, director of community services for the Oswego County Department of Social Services Division of Mental Hygiene. “For those members of our community who may be having difficulty managing anxiety during this time, please know that Oswego County is working with local provider agencies to assist.”

Farnham Family Services and the County of Oswego Council on Alcoholism and Addictions (COCOAA) provide treatment, recovery and prevention services related to substance use disorder.

“Services and support are available,” said Eric A. Bresee, MS LMHC, executive director of Farnham Family Services. “This is a challenging time for individuals and families in our community, and we want people to know they can get support from Farnham and COCOAA.”

In order to minimize risk and person-to-person contact, the agency provides outpatient services including evaluations, individual and group therapy via telephone or video conference.

To access outpatient services, peer support, prevention counseling, and for more information, individuals may call 315-342-4489 or 315-342-2370 and be connected to the next available clinician for an assessment. Access to medication-assisted treatment will be discussed and arranged during the assessment process.

The opioid treatment program remains open. Individual and group therapy are being delivered via telephone or video conference. To access opioid treatment program services, individuals may stop by Farnham at 283 W. Second St., Oswego, Mondays at 8:30 a.m. or Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m., or call 315-342-4489 for more information.

“Anxiety is a normal response to a stressful situation and typical anxiety can provide adaptive benefits in many situations,” said Kolmsee. “Monitoring your stress level will let you know when you need to seek additional help.

“Atypical stress reactions include a persistent and/or excessive worry that doesn’t go away and keeps you from doing your daily tasks. There may be significant changes in your energy level, eating and sleeping habits. You may have trouble concentrating on normal tasks, feel prolonged and overwhelming worry and hopelessness, or have thoughts of self-injury or suicide.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Oswego County rate for suicide for 2016 to 2018 is 14.6 deaths per 100,000 population, down from 17.3 deaths per 100,000 population for 2014 to 2016.

“We have experienced a vast increase in unemployment related to the coronavirus emergency,” added Kolmsee. “Unemployment is a well-established risk factor for suicide. One in three people who die by suicide are unemployed at the time of their deaths. Historically, for every one-point increase in the unemployment rate, the suicide rate tends to increase almost .8 points.”

If a person or someone they know are having thoughts of self-injury or suicide, seek help immediately. Reach out to the local Oswego Mobile Crisis Service by calling 315-251-0800. People can also call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or text the word “HOME” to 741741. These are 24/7 crisis phone and text lines.

For more information on services available through Farnham and COCOAA, visit or

For more information on mental hygiene services in Oswego County, visit or call the Division of Mental Hygiene at 315-963-5361.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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