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Resources for mental health during COVID-19 spread

We know these are trying times. There are resources to help us all get through it.

It is getting to everyone.  Constant worry and fear about the impacts of COVID-19 are taking their toll on people's psyche.  The uncertainty associated with the illness, self-isolation and the economic ramifications are a trifecta of challenges for one's mind.  

The current state of our lives is especially difficult for anyone already struggling with mental health issues with a potential increase in risk factors.  According to the anxiety and depression association of America, approximately 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Bill Prasad, a licensed professional counselor and mental health and wellness expert, says this crisis can be the tipping point for someone who was previously suicidal or already dealing with mental health disorders and addictions like alcoholism or drug addiction.  

He says it is paramount for them to maintain their course of treatment prior to the pandemic such as prescription medication and they should seek immediate help if they are thinking dangerous thoughts.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-950-6264.  

As for everyone else, the majority of adults who are putting up a strong front for their immediate family, it's all about stress management and coping techniques.  However, even experts realize this is easier said than done.  The daily stresses of caring for kids and/or elderly parents plus working from home are daunting yet an individual in this position may feel like he or she has no one to complain to about the situation.  

Prasad adds Texans are unique.  People in Texas who work in the oil and gas industry may be deeply concerned about their jobs and economic outlook with the downward spiral of oil and petroleum prices.  Their situation presents an even deeper level of worry that they may keep bottled-up.  Prasad recommends adults vent and get their concerns off their chests, not necessarily with a family member, but to someone else with a compassionate ear from outside the home. 

He recommends reaching out to the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line established by Texas Health and Human Services.  You can call toll free at 1-833-986-1919.  The support line is a 24/7 statewide mental health support line to help Texans experiencing anxiety, stress or emotional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Day-to-day the best strategies for dealing with COVID-19 onset anxiety and stress include: focusing on what you can control, taking breaks from the constant feed of grim headlines on social media and other platforms, practicing self-care by exercising, praying and meditating.   Do connect with others and keep in contact via email, text or call.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers additional resources for other ways to support your mental health.

Be sure to not forget about the teenagers and young adults in your life.  They may not be the most communicative about what's going on but they have their stresses and worries they are internalizing too.  Talk to them even if they do not want to talk.  Reassure your teen they are safe but it is okay if they feel upset about missing prom, graduation or if they are  just missing their friends.  Share with them how to deal with their stress.  Use your self as an example and let them know, while reassuring yourself, we will get through this together.