Staying home in isolation can have a toll on one’s mental and physical health. The outbreak of the new coronavirus may be stressful and cause anxiety, but mental health professionals in Hopkins County want to help alleviate that stress with some coping strategies.
Mountain Comprehensive Care Center in Madisonville has some coping methods to help during this time. Chief Operating Officer Ken Stein offered some suggestions.
“Like, trying to keep yourself occupied. TV, books, play games with your kids,” he said. “If it’s not raining so hard, go outside and play in the yard with the kids. Anything to make the distraction that we’re going through seem less stressful at this point.”
Most of MCCC’s clients, when working with a therapist, discuss coping skills they can utilize to deal with their issues, Stein said.
“There’s a ton of information on the internet about coping skills that apply to a variety of mental health issues that people can look up,” he said.
One site Stein suggests was nami.com, the website for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. On the site, there is a COVID-19 help guide that is regularly updated.
If you are feeling anxious because of the coronavirus, NAMI suggests arming yourself with knowledge regarding the virus. Their help guide also said not to believe everything you read, know your sources, and to visit the Center for Disease Control and Preventions website for accurate information regarding COVID-19.
The third suggestion from NAMI was to maintain familiar routines in your daily life as much as possible and employ helpful coping strategies: such as resting during downtime, eating healthy and engage in physical activities.
MCCC Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Amanda Waddell, APRN, said people need to remain connected with family members.
“By telephone, or if family members don’t have symptoms, for the family members to come together using all the precautions,” she said. “There are online websites for meditation on how to cope with anxiety. I have one client that uses an anxiety reduction website, and it has helped him a lot.”
Waddell said the main thing is to stay connected.
“When you’re isolated, the big thing is that you don’t feel so isolated,” she said. “Getting help from family members that are able to get out and bring groceries and stuff to the elderly, that’s important. So people don’t feel like they’re going to be without food or the basic necessities. The younger family members who are healthy, and can get out, need to help support the ones that can’t get out or who are afraid to get out.”
Stein also suggested getting information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. When clicking on their site, they have informational packets regarding COVID-19 and how to cope with isolation.
SAMHSA suggest to relax, take deep breaths, stretch and engage in activities you enjoy. They also suggest talking about your experiences with loved ones and friends. Another coping strategy SAMHSA has is to try and maintain a sense of hope through writing — write down things you are grateful for or that are going well, they suggest.
Through this hard time, MCCC has had to layoff a number of its staff who aren’t able to access their clients. Stein said that includes school counselors. However, Stein did say that school kids can still be seen at their clinic.
“It’s important to know that all school kids can still be seen in the clinic, and hopefully very soon, once the state approves it, they’ll be able to be seen through Telehealth,” he said. “We’re here and we’re open. We serve any clients who have mental health needs.”
If you need additional coping strategies or help with your anxieties or overall mental health, contact MCCC at 270-825-0414. Read all of SAMHSA’s guide at bit.ly/SAMHSA-COVID19tips. And visit NAMI’s information and resource guide at bit.ly/NAMI-COVID19guide.
Gov. Andy Beshear suggested during his Thursday address to take pictures of some of the ways you are coping during this time. He said to share the photos of you and your families using the hashtags, #TeamKentucky and #TogetherKY.