Caring for mental health and well-being during pandemic

As the number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus increase, so to will some people’s stress levels.

GENESEO – As the number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus increase, so to will some people’s stress levels, according to mental health experts who say there are two classifications of people that will likely be affected.

“Those that prior to this crisis have existing mental health concerns and trying to meet their needs” will be affected, says Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Director Lynette Green, “but also people who are struggling with the anxiety that is brought about by this global pandemic and the isolation.”

For some, Green says the mandatory and self isolation restrictions will only add to people’s stress.

“For many people being isolated does make things worse because by nature we are very social creatures and depend on others for support, so it absolutely can add to stress,” says Green.

She also says more people are going to the grocery stores because that is a basic need and she says the outing is something that people can control. Those buying increased amounts of toilet paper and cleaning products could be doing so out of fear.

“I think it is the fear of not having it and then that kind of become contagious, you know – ‘Everyone else is buying toilet paper. I was not going to buy some, but now what if I do need some in two weeks and everyone else has bought it up.’ So it kind of spirals,” says Green.

The pandemic is affecting people of all ages in different ways but the longer the health crisis continues Green says it could be having a increasingly negative affect on some people’s mental health.

“I would imagine that people are going to begin to struggle more. We are not taking a huge number of intakes at the moment, but I anticipate that will all change the longer that people are stuck at home and isolated,” says Green.

For Green, the isolation is similar to the “cabin fever,” that some people get during the winter months – “when you feel like you are kind of stuck indoors,” she says.

“In the beginning, it is OK and then after the holidays it starts to get ‘ugh.’ Then, by February or March, when you have really cold weather, you are like ‘Oh my gosh I am just ready to get out of the house.’ People do get more stir crazy over time for sure,” says Green.

To help with the stress of the COVID-19 crisis Green says one thing people can do that is pretty simple is to turn off the television.

“One the most simple things to do is to turn off the news,” she says. “You want to stay informed, but watching it all day long just adds to anxiety. To check in with the news once a day should be sufficient.”

Another tip she says is to limit social media interactions.

“Because it is the one way now that we can really be connected with one another and we have all of these ways to do that between the social media or face time. They are great, but on the other hand, when every other post has something to do with COVID-19, it is right back in your face again,” says Green.

Having a routine that you do everyday is also important.

“The importance of having a structure and a routine to your day is also key,” she says, suggesting maintaining a general wake-up time and “just putting some order to a day helps people to feel like there is some more normalcy to your day.”

Green also recommends people can spend time outside doing exercise but not with big groups of people; and if you have children she says spend time with them.

“If you are at home with the kids, it is important to keep them busy, in addition to helping them with school work and during that part of the structured part of the day,” says Green. “it is important to take some time to read to them or do crafts.”

It is also important to work on projects around the house and stay connected with family members over the phone.

Helpful resources

n Noyes Mental Health: Call (585) 335-4316. Call for an appointment.

n Livingston County Mental Health: Walks-in available if in crisis, but call first. (585) 243-7250.

n Livingston County Suicide Prevention Task Force: Visit www.gvhp.org, or like the organization on Facebook.

n Genesee County Mental Health Services: (585) 344-1421.

n Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties: In Batavia, (585) 344-2611, and Albion, (585) 589-1158.

n Orleans County Department of Mental Health: (585) 589-7066.

n Mental Health Association of Wyoming County: (585) 786-0080.

n Wyoming County Suicide Prevention Coalition: (585) 786-8871.

n Care and Crisis Helpline: Available in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties by calling, (585) 283-5200.

n New York State Mental Health Hotline: Call 1 (844) 863-9314 for free emotional support, consultation and provider referral.

n New York State Textline: Text “GOT5” to 741741.

n Lifeline: Call 211 for information on available resources.

n National Suicide Prevention Line: 1 (800) 273-8255.

n Veterans Crisis Line: 1 (800) 273-8255.

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