BHCHP Summer Zoom Series - July 28 - Treating Mental Illness During a Pandemic

Treating Mental Illness During a Pandemic

Esther Valdez, MD/Cassis Henry, MD

Tuesday, July 28, @ 11 am

Mental illness is pervasive among BHCHP’s adult patient and can be very challenging to treat. BHCHP’s behavioral health team comprises psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and others who work hand-in-hand with medical providers to ensure psychiatric and medical treatments are well integrated — key to quality primary healthcare.

The pandemic has been exceedingly difficult for our patients with mental illness. They live chaotic lives, and even in normal times, it is sometimes difficult for BHCHP providers to keep connected to them. This became even tougher when in-person appointments ceased and the city shut down.

But the behavioral health team adapted. Team members quickly switched to telehealth and found innovative ways to stay connected to patients.  Drs. Henry and Valdez will talk about some of the creative ways providers changed their practice to keep as many patients as possible engaged in care. The presentation will be enriched with anonymous patient stories to open a window onto the work they do.

Additionally, they’ll discuss:

  • The unique challenges of homelessness during a pandemic and its psychological impact
  • Telepsychiatry: the silver linings, the challenges
  • Looking forward: what changes in BHCHP’s behavioral healthcare may persist when the pandemic subsides

Esther Valdez, MD

Dr. Valdez has been the director of the behavioral health team at BHCHP since 2017. She supervises a team of clinicians, including social workers, licensed mental health counselors, psychiatrists and nurse practitioners who provide services in multiple settings, including shelters, transitional and permanent housing.

Dr. Valdez is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Preventive Medicine in the subspecialty of Addiction Medicine.

She has practiced at BHCHP for more than two decades, providing crisis, episodic, and continuing psychiatric care in respite and outpatient settings to newly and chronically homeless patients as well as formerly homeless patients.

Cassis Henry MD, MA

Dr. Henry joined BHCHP in 2015 and has served as the medical director of Casa Esperanza since 2018.

She has been a Kraft Practitioner at the Kraft Center for Community Health and a co-investigator on a grant-funded project with investigators from Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health examining the feasibility and acceptability of alternatives to Pap screening for cervical cancer in patients at BHCHP.

Prior to joining BHCHP, Dr. Henry worked at the New York State Office of Mental Health and the New York State Psychiatric Institute in the Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research.

She completed a fellowship in public psychiatry at Columbia University in 2011. She was an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and a Clinical Instructor, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine.

She earned her undergraduate degree at Yale, a master’s in anthropology at Harvard and her medical degree at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Henry is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Preventive Medicine in the subspecialty of addiction medicine.

To see more of our Summer series Zoom offerings click here.