SPRINGFIELD — 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.”
Here are a few tips Mayer recommends for how to manage distress related to COVID-19:
— Seek information only from reputable sources, like the Ohio Department of Health, Greene County Public Health, or Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties. Credible information is being shared as it becomes available on the following websites: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, www.coronavirus.ohio.gov, www.gcph.info, 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 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (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, museums are offering virtual visiting options, and while Greene County public libraries are closed, you still can visit their digital library for audiobooks and e-books. Enjoying hobbies in a different way 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. 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: TCN Behavioral Health Crisis Line: 937-376-8701; Ohio Crisis Text Line: Text “4HOPE” to 741-741; Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990, or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 for English or “Hablanos” to 66746 for Spanish, TTY 1-800-846-8517; National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255; and 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,” said Mayer. “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.”
TCN Behavioral Health Services, a contract care provider for MHRB, now is offering a virtual walk-in clinic, which allows individuals to receive services and assessments from their home. To receive virtual services, complete a registration packet online at www.tcn.org and then contact TCN’s office at 937-374-6022 during designated walk-in clinic times, which are Monday through Saturday from 8:30-10:00 a.m. Given that some clients might not have access to technology needed, TCN will provide telehealth rooms that allow for social distancing as an alternative during walk-in clinic times. Additional information about the virtual walk-in clinic can be found at www.tcn.org.
Another contract care provider of MHRB, Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County recently launched a texting hotline to increase support during this time. Survivors and families can reach the texting hotline by sending a message to 937-347-5917.