The COVID-19 crisis has spurred important conversations about mental health. People across the Pacific Northwest and around the world are adjusting to a new normal as we all practice social distancing and learn how to cope with the uncertainty of a global pandemic. During challenging times, it’s more important than ever to invest in your mental health and connect with resources that will help you overcome feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling with mental health challenges exacerbated by COVID-19, be kind to yourself and know that you are not alone. The Mac’s List team is here to help you navigate this unprecedented time in our community and world. This guide will help you care for your mental well-being and find the mental health resources you need.
How to overcome mental health challenges
Feelings of isolation
One of the most challenging aspects of self-isolation and social distancing is the separation from close friends and family. When you don’t have the opportunity to socialize with loved ones in person, connect with your colleagues at work, or be out in the community, it can feel emotionally disruptive. This is an ideal time to stay connected with the people you care about via email, phone, or social media.
Video platforms such as Skype and ZOOM offer an opportunity to connect face-to-face, while Marco Polo combines texting, social media, and video chats in one app. Many people are setting up virtual happy hours or connecting through virtual experiences such as watching movies together. And don’t forget the art of snail mail! You can brighten others’ days by sending a handwritten postcard or letter.
Mr. Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Whether it’s cheering for frontline workers with your neighbors or participating in a social distance birthday parade, there are plenty of creative ways for you to connect with others and support your community from afar. You can even consider adopting a pet through Oregon Humane Society!
Bridgeliner has a great crowdsourced guide of ways to be a helper. If you’re looking for a dosage of good news and inspiration, platforms such as Goodnewspaper, Upworthy, and John Krasinski’s Some Good News video series share heartwarming stories from around the world.
During a difficult time, it’s important to be kind and patient toward yourself and others. While it’s helpful to stay informed, hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Don’t be afraid to take breaks from the news and social media. Reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization can help you to stay informed while avoiding too much news exposure.
Caring for your body and mind will also help you to manage stress. Try to eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. By taking regular breaks throughout your day to get outside and being intentional about your downtime, you can prevent burnout. Deep breathing and meditation practices can further help to alleviate anxiety and support a good night’s sleep. The Calm, Headspace, and Shine apps are great resources to get you started.
As our communities practice social distancing, many people are working from home and finding themselves with more free time than usual. It’s easy to play the social media comparison game during the COVID-19 crisis, but remember everyone has different life experiences and copes with stress differently. Practice self-care as you navigate being productive and coping with a global crisis.
Consider processing what’s happening around you by channeling your inner artist or writer. Books, movies, and virtual museum tours can offer a welcome distraction from the crisis. Best-selling author Gretchen Rubin has published a variety of blog and podcast episodes about how to keep your spirits up and find new routines during times of crisis. You can also keep your mind active by reflecting on your goals, doing small projects, or taking free online classes.
How to find help and support
Another option to explore during the COVID-19 crisis is virtual therapy. Many therapists are implementing online sessions to support their clients, and a variety of low-cost therapy options are popping up online. Fast Company has created a list of free online therapy options, while WebMD has suggestions for how to make the most of your online therapy appointment.
Author and researcher Brené Brown talks about the collective vulnerability of a pandemic. This is an important time for mental health awareness, and we are all in this together. If you are struggling with isolation, anxiety, or depression, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Below, we’ve outlined local and national mental health resources to support you through this difficult time.
- Kaiser Permanente has its own crisis line called EPS or Emergency Psychiatric Services. Patients are welcome to call 503- 331-6425 for immediate contact with a Kaiser therapist.
- Multnomah County Crisis Services’ team of mental health professionals is prepared to help anyone experiencing mental health issues at any time, in any language.
- Call the Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center at 503-988-4888 to access free, 24/7 mental health support.
- The Multnomah County Urgent Walk-In Clinic (like Zoom Care) at 4212 S.E. Division St. can help anyone experiencing a mental health crisis at no cost. The clinic is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call 503-963-2575 to learn more. Oregon Health Plan and insurance are not a barrier at this clinic.
- LifeWorksNW, a local treatment center that provides services for mental health and addiction, is still serving current and new consumers. If you are a new consumer who’s interested in their services, please contact their Intake Department to schedule an appointment at 503-645-9010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other area mental health crisis lines:
- Clackamas County: 503-655-8585
- Washington County: 503-291-9111
- Clark County: 360-696-9560 or 1-800-686-8137
- Oregon Youthline is a free, confidential teen-to-teen crisis and help line. Teens can text Teen2Teen to 839863 to instantly text with another person or call 877-968-8491. The organization also has COVID-19 support resources listed on its website.
- Impact NW serves Slavic families. The organization is closed to the public, but its programs and services continue to operate. Reach Impact NW at 503- 721-1740 or www.impactnw.org.
- IRCO (Immigrant Refugee Community Organization)’s offices are closed, but the organization that serves African immigrants and Pacific Islander, and Asian families has a roundup of COVID-19 resources listed on its website.
- Latino Network has community resources for Latino families.
- NAYA (Native American Youth and Family Center) serves Native American families and has a community resources guide during COVID-19.
- SEI (Self Enhancement Inc.) serves African American families and features a resource page with COVID-19 updates.
- The Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 support at your fingertips. Text SHARE to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor.
- The National Alliance for Mental Illness created a COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide.
- The National Suicide Prevention Hotline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress.
- English: 1-800-273-8255
- Spanish: 1-800-628-9454
- Psychology Today has a guide to support your mental health during COVID-19.
- Trevor Project is a national 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth. Text START to 678678 or call TrevorLifeLine at 1-866-488-7386.
- Verywell Mind has a guide to top online therapy programs in 2020.