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As the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to create global shutdowns, Mayor Garcetti orders a “Safer at Home” emergency order that instructs all residents of Los Angeles county to stay at home and limit movement outside of taking care of essential needs. With the number of infected residents increasing every day, this action serves to combat the further spread of the virus. The order comes after weeks of 24/7 media coverage on the severity of the pandemic and instructions on prevention measures, including social distancing and self-isolation. What implications does this pose on mental health?
Undoubtedly, the current circumstances have created a significant amount of panic, confusion, and fear for people all over the world. As social beings, the idea of being locked indoors with no contact with our loved ones can be quite overwhelming. The uncertainty of when we can all expect this to be over and the economic implications are also distressing factors to take into consideration. Though the situation is far from ideal, there are things we can do to look after our mental health during this challenging time.
There is no denying that this is a frightening period, but it’s of critical importance to stay calm and grounded. Stress and anxiety have been well-known factors that contribute to the weakening of the immune system by taxing the body and hindering its ability to fight off infections, putting us at a higher risk of catching a virus. Though it might feel impossible not to stress at a time like this, there are several healthy habits one can adopt to help:
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There are several apps that enable group video calling, including zoom, skype, and Google Hangouts. An app called House Party even enables groups to play games while video calling.
Many therapists have transitioned to telehealth counseling to accommodate people that are struggling with their mental health at this time. Ask your therapist if they are willing to hold sessions by phone or video via HIPAA compliant telemedicine software such as Zoom or Doxy.me. If you do not currently have a therapist, there are HIPAA compliant apps that will connect you to one. TalkSpace, LARKR, and Brightside are a few examples of such platforms.
You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor for free. Check out Crisis Text Line for more information.
The implications of the pandemic stretch far beyond just our physical health; we must be vigilant about the state of our mental health by practicing self-care and developing healthy coping mechanisms that will enable us to deal with the situation at hand effectively. The uncertainty of when this will pass will likely envoke feelings of anxiety for many, but it is valuable to remember that it is not a matter of if, but rather when it will pass.