Mental Health Tips During COVID-19
During this challenging time, we wanted to make sure we were helping our community safeguard their mental health as well as their physical health. Below are some helpful tips based on our clinical expertise and CDC guidance.
If you require non-emergency mental health assistance, please call our Access Center at 1.800.730.2762
Remember, social distancing does not mean interpersonal disconnect. Stay connected while following responsible physical distancing guidelines via calls, texts, video chats, and emails.
Calming prompts for our consumers:
The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about the virus can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children. Everyone reacts differently! People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated stories about the outbreak in the media (TV, radio, and via social media platforms).
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
- Pre-existing mental health conditions including substance abuse
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19
Reactions can include:
- Fear and worry about their health or their loved ones.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems including increases use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
People with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans during an emergency and monitor for new symptoms. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community. Take care of yourself and each other and seek out help.
- Avoid excessive exposure to the media coverage of COVID-19.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly.
- Perform some other activities you enjoy and experience a sense of normalcy.
- Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
Children react, in part, on what they see from adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.
Some common changes to watch for in children:
- Excessive crying and irritation
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown
- Excessive worrying or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Support your child:
- Take time to talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions about COVID-19 in a way that a child can understand.
- Reassure your children they are safe. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn to cope from you.
- Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the event. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Help your child to have structure. Help them to return to a sense of normalcy.
- Be a role model; take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members and rely on your social support system.
Resources for Families:
- Taking Care of Family Well-Being (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, NCTSN)
- Supporting Homebound Children During COVID-19 (CSTS)
- Supporting Your Family During Quarantine or Isolation: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation during an Infectious Disease Outbreak (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA)