Tips and local resources for managing stress related to COVID-19

(Posted May 1, 2020)

During stressful times, mental health concerns are brought to the forefront.

“The spreading of COVID-19, as well as the uncertainty we’re living with, might exacerbate mental health concerns and stress for community members,” said Dr. Greta Mayer, CEO of Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties (MHRB). “This response to a large-scale traumatic event is completely normal, but there are several steps you can take to help manage stress.”

Mayer recommends the following tips for managing distress related to COVID-19:

• Seek information only from reputable sources, like the Ohio Department of Health, Madison County Public Health, or MHRB. Credible information is being shared as it becomes available on the following websites: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, www.coronavirus.ohio.gov, www.co.madison.oh.us/services/public_health, and www.facebook.com/mentalhealthrecoveryboard. People with questions about COVID-19 can call the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center, seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 1-833-427-5634.

• Limit media exposure. Research suggests that in times of stress, excessive media intake can lead to negative mental health outcomes. Limiting your daily media use can help reduce panic and distress.

• Find new ways to do the things that usually help you reduce stress. Many places are offering online options to continue doing what you enjoy from your living room. Churches are live-streaming services, gyms are offering free in-home classes, and while Madison County public libraries are closed, you still can visit their digital libraries for audiobooks, e-books, and digital resources. Enjoying hobbies in different ways and developing a new, healthy routine will increase a sense of purpose and hope.

• Follow recommendations of health experts. Eat well, exercise, sleep enough, stay hydrated and avoid excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, in addition to following practices that will help limit the spread of COVID-19.

• Connect with others (virtually, please). While practicing social distancing can limit physical contact with loved ones, consider connecting through phone calls, texts, video chats or social media platforms.

• Recognize symptoms of distress. Look for signs of distress in yourself, your family and your friends. Signs include: persistent worry or fear, sleeping or eating either too little or too much, isolating yourself emotionally, fighting more than normal with family and friends, having difficulty concentrating, having the same thoughts repeatedly, feeling hopeless or helpless, smoking or drinking more alcohol than usual, or having thoughts of harming yourself or others.

• If you are feeling distressed for an extended period of time, reach out for help. The following resources are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

  • Madison County Crisis Line: (740) 852-6256;
  • Ohio Crisis Text Line: Text “4HOPE” to 741-741;
  • OhioMHAS COVID Careline: 1-800-720-9616;
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990, or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 for English or “Hablanos” to 66746 for Spanish, Deaf/Hard of Hearing TTY 1-800-846-8517;
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255;
  • Family Violence Prevention Center Hotline: (937) 426-2334 or (937) 372-4552, or reach the texting hotline at (937) 347-5917.

“Just as physical health providers are essential during this pandemic, so are providers delivering care for mental illness and substance use disorders,” Mayer said. “Locally, we are supporting behavioral health providers to offer assistance, supplies, funding, and ensure that they are still able to deliver quality mental health and substance use services during this crisis, because we know our communities need them now more than ever.”

Mental Health Services for Clark and Madison Counties, a contract care provider for MHRB, continues to offer services and schedule new clients. Most therapists are utilizing telehealth to continue providing assessments and individual counseling sessions. Psychiatrists also are utilizing telehealth. Minimal staff remain in the London office from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to continue providing essential services like injections, medications and emergency services. For more information, visit www.mhscc.org.

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