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Mental health important during coronavirus pandemic

 

Last updated 4/22/2020 at 9:08am

Dr. Marilyn Holman

The coronavirus pandemic comes along with various types of stress for various types of people, including anxiety about health, the economy, and the future of the world.

Throw the depression, boredom, or restlessness due to social distancing on top of it all, and it's easy to see why mental health is important during these times.

We contacted Dr. Marilyn Holman, a psychiatrist at Coulee Medical Center about how such times can affect mental health.

"This is a difficult time for everyone," Holman responded in an email. "We all have concerns about the COVID19 pandemic. It is normal to have worries about the health and safety of yourself and loved ones, feelings of loneliness, and fear of uncertainty. Common psychological responses to pandemics are difficulty sleeping, feeling unsafe, increased use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, changes in eating patterns, poor concentration, and worsening of chronic health problems. There are actions you can take to improve your mental health.

"During a pandemic it is important to have trustworthy and up to date information," Holman continues. "Ensure you are getting information from reputable sources like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and county public health websites. If the news makes you feel more fearful then limit media exposure. Consider limiting news updates to once or twice a day."

Holman advises creating a new routine under the new circumstances.

"Our usual routines are different," she said. "For our mental health it is important to have a daily schedule. Create a new daily routine. Items to include in your new routine are: wake time, meals, breaks, fun activities, exercise, relaxation activities, time to connect with others, and bedtime. Scheduling activities that make you feel happy is a way to improve your mood. Physical activity is a great way to help reduce anxiety, decrease sadness, and improve your physical health. Having a consistent wake and bedtime is helpful for insomnia. Connecting with others via phone, text, or video helps with feelings of isolation. Eat well balanced meals and drink water. Ideas for relaxation activities are: hot baths, meditation, deep breathing, and journaling."

"We are in this together and will persevere as a community," Holman added.

Those having difficulty should consider contacting their health care providers, she said. And she listed crisis resources, including:

National Disaster Crisis Line 1-800-985-5990

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

National Text Crisis Line: Text Home 741741

Holman cited the CDC, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress as sources of information.

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An article published on the National Alliance on Mental Illness underscores Holman's point of maintaining a routine.

The March 31 article by Lynne S. Gots, Ph.D. titled "How To Protect Your Mental Health During The Coronavirus Outbreak" also mentions showering and getting dressed instead of staying in pajamas as good for mental health.

Gots also emphasized motivating yourself to get out of bed with goals such as a project to work on, chores to accomplish, or exercise, noting that exercise at home is still possible even though gyms are closed.

Guided meditations from YouTube, apps such as 10% Happier or Headspace, or the UCLA Center for Mindfulness were also recommended by Gots, as well as being kind to yourself.

"To ease feelings of isolation, acknowledge your struggle with kindness, rather than self-judgment, and recognize that millions of people world-wide are sharing your experience right now," Gots writes. "This time is challenging for everyone. But you don't need to compound the difficulties by neglecting your mental health."

Mental health

resources shared by Grant County Health District and the

Grant County Sheriff's Office

• 24-Hour Crisis Line, 1-866-4CRISIS (427-4747): Provides immediate help to individuals, families, and friends of people in emotional crisis. Can help you determine if you or your loved one needs professional consultation and can link you to the appropriate services. A primary source for linking residents to emergency mental health services.

• Teen Link, Call or Text: 1-866-833-6546: Youth crisis specialists are available to talk by phone from 6-10 p.m. and chat or text from 6-9:30 p.m. every night. You can also call, chat, or text in to connect with an adult substance use specialist from 1-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

• Washington Recovery Help Line, 1-866-789-1511: An anonymous and confidential help line that provides crisis intervention and referral services for Washington state residents. Professionally trained volunteers and staff provide emotional support 24 hours a day, and offer local treatment resources for substance abuse, problem gambling and mental health, as well as to other community services.

• WA Warm Line, 1-877-500-WARM: A peer-support help line for people living with emotional and mental health challenges. Calls are answered by specially-trained volunteers who have lived experience with mental health challenges. They have a deep understanding of what you are going through and are here to provide emotional support, comfort, and information. All calls are confidential.

 

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