Coping with Anxiety or Depression During COVID-19 Outbreak
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just making some people sick, it’s spreading feelings of anxiety, depression and fear. The social distancing that can help flatten the disease’s curve can be isolating, especially for people who live alone. The National Council for Behavioral Health recommends using tips from the public education program Mental Health First Aid to learn warning signs of a mental health crisis and ways to provide support.
Five Steps of Mental Health First Aid:
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm. Identify if the person is experiencing a crisis such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, and address that first. It’s OK to do the assessment over the phone, text or social media. If the person’s life is in immediate danger, call 911.
- Listen nonjudgmentally. If the person isn’t in a crisis, ask how they’re feeling and how long they’ve been feeling that way. Pay attention and show you care.
- Give reassurance and information. Your support can have a huge impact on the person. Reassure them that it is appropriate to experience fear, sadness or anxiety during situations like this. Remind them that help is available, and you’ll be there for them along the way.
- Encourage appropriate professional help. Offer to help them find a professional for support, such as a primary care physician, mental health professional, psychiatrist or certified peer specialist. Behavioral health care providers can provide services by phone and/or secure videoconferencing, so they will be able to maintain physical distancing.
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies. Self-help strategies and reaching out for support from family, friends, faith communities and others who have experienced depression or anxiety (peer supporters) can make a difference.
For more information, go to https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. We can all get through this together. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the COVID-19 situation, contact NewBridge Services at (973) 316-9333. NewBridge also has posted useful articles about coping with the pandemic on our website.
If you suspect someone is having suicidal thoughts, talk to them. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends these five action steps:
- Ask. While it may feel awkward, ask, ‘Are you thinking about killing yourself?’
- Keep them safe. Keep them away from lethal items and places.
- Be there. Ask questions and listen to what they are thinking and feeling.
- Help them connect. Make sure they get in touch with a mental health professional or someone very close to them.
- Stay Connected. Follow up with the individual afterward because that can reduce the risk of a subsequent crisis.