Resources for Coping During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Concern over the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, can make any of us upset and anxious, especially individuals with mental health conditions and their loved ones. For the latest information and advice about how to protect yourself and your family and what to do if you have symptoms, please see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

NAMI Main Line has moved our ongoing support groups to an online format using Zoom (with call-in option), started Wellness Chats, and compiled the resources below to help you maintain your health and well-being during this time of uncertainty. For late-breaking news of relevant resources and opportunities, please sign up for our Facebook posts ( https://www.facebook.com/NAMIPAMainLine/) or tweets (https://twitter.com/NAMIPAMainLine/).

Although the information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, we are not specifically endorsing these services. Email us at info@NAMIMainLinePA.org or call 267-251-6240 to send us feedback.

Crisis Information
Warm Lines, Help Lines and General Information
Virtual Support Group Meetings
Wellness Chats for All
Montgomery County Resources and Advocacy
Tips on Coping
Diversions

Crisis Information

If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, call the crisis line for your county or you can call 911 (e.g. if there is immediate danger of physical harm).  In Southeastern Pennsylvania, call:

Bucks County: 800.499.7455
Chester County: 877.918.2100
Delaware County: 855.889.7827
Montgomery County: 855.634.4673
Philadelphia County: 215.686.4420

You can also call one of the following national hotlines to be referred to the closest crisis center:

800.SUICIDE (800.784.2433)
800.273.TALK (800.273.8255)
888.628.9454 (for Spanish speakers)
or text “PA” to the Crisis Text Line: 741-741.

Lifeline Chat, available 24/7, is a service of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, connecting individuals with counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

For resources to help you cope with, prepare for and/or prevent a crisis, see https://namimainlinepa.org/resources-for-coping-with-preparing-for-and-preventing-a-crisis/.

Warm Lines, Help Lines and General Information

Warm lines are available to call when you or a loved one with mental illness wants support. Local warm lines are available at https://namimainlinepa.org/services-in-sepa-2/intro-to-services/#-2.-Help-Lines-and-Warm-Lines- .

If you need general information, try a local help line. Many help lines are operating on a reduced schedule or on a return call basis. https://namimainlinepa.org/services-in-sepa-2/intro-to-services/#-2.-Help-Lines-and-Warm-Lines-

Montgomery County Peer Support or Teen Talk Line
Hours: Sunday through Saturday, 1:00 – 9:00 p.m.
For Adults
Call: 855-715-8255
Text: 267-225-7785    
For Teens
Call: 866-825-5856
Text: 215-703-8411
Email: teentalkline@accessservices.or

All Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs)  in Montgomery County are continuing to provide service and can provide therapy via the phone. 

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has created an Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) to help low-income families who lost wages experiencing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Families who qualify will be eligible for a one-time payment to assist them in meeting basic needs and help them secure more stable financial footing in the future. Click here for more info.

NAMI National has prepared information and resources in their COVID-19 Resource Guide, available at https://www.nami.org/getattachment/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-Updates-on-the-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf, see especially info about how to get medical care and prescriptions on pages 4-6.

Advice for parents on how to support kids during the coronavirus crisis is available at https://childmind.org/article/supporting-kids-during-the-covid-19-crisis/.

Additional advice for parents of teens and young adults can be found at https://childmind.org/article/supporting-teenagers-and-young-adults-during-the-coronavirus-crisis/.

The Emergency Food Map of Montgomery County now shows locations where families with school-age children can pick up meals during the coronavirus shutdown, as well as food pantries and soup kitchens across the county.

Be a Part of the Conversation, an organization that provides support to families who are living with substance use issues, has put together a page of virtual and online resources for people in recovery, dealing with grief, and loved ones at https://conversation.zone/connected/.

For individuals and small business, here is a useful page on emergency resources to help with COVID-19 hardships.

An update from Social Security on the Recovery Rebates for people on SSI is available at https://blog.ssa.gov/new-guidance-about-covid-19-economic-impact-payments/.

Due to Pennsylvania’s emergency disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, use of the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) will be limited.

If you have a scheduled appointment that has not yet been cancelled, contact your medical provider to see if the appointment is necessary.

You should tell your medical provider if you or anyone in your household have any of the following:
1. A fever higher than 100.0 degrees or new respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat;
2. Had contact (either live with or have been within six feet of for a ten to thirty-minute period) with a person with COVID-19 in the past 14 days; or,
3. Been diagnosed with COVID-19 or told by a medical provider that they may or do have COVID-19.

If your medical provider tells you to come in and you call to arrange transportation, you will be asked these same questions. Depending on how you answer these questions, you may not be allowed to use MATP. The transportation provider will advise you on what to do in this situation. If you are allowed to use MATP, you must wear a face mask during the MATP ride.

Johns Hopkins University is offering a free course on COVID-19 Contact Tracing through Coursera. More information is available at https://www.coursera.org/learn/covid-19-contact-tracing?edocomorp=covid-19-contact-tracing.

Virtual Support Group Meetings

For Family Members:

NAMI Main Line will offer our regularly scheduled support groups in a virtual format using Zoom. Please contact support group leaders for the specific link and/or call-in number.

  • Our Bryn Mawr Family Member Support Group meets the first Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m.  Please contact Diane at dmkotrl@aol.com for more information.
  • Our Havertown NAMI Family Support Group meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. Please contact Nora at nora@huntjohnson.org for more information.
  • Our Parent Peer Support Group for parents with a middle school through young adult child meets on Wednesday nights from 6:45-8:15 p.m.  Please contact Nancy for more information at psadfacilitator@gmail.com

NAMI Family Member Support Groups offered by NAMI Montgomery County will meet using Zoom.
Zoom link for all Family Member Groups: https://zoom.us/j/462164157 or to join via phone dial 1-929-205-6099 and enter meeting ID 462 164 157.
Meetings will take place on:
1st Mondays at 7 p.m.
2nd Mondays at 7 p.m.
1st Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
2nd Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. (this group is off in April, start again in May)

NAMI Bucks County will be offering multiple Family Member Support Groups. Please see the schedule at https://namibuckspa.org/support/online-support-groups/.

The Youth Mental Health Project
This organization supports parents who have children with mental illnesses. They are providing all supports online right now and while some of their virtual meetings are specific to certain parts of the country, they do have some meetings that are open to anyone in the nation.

NAMI National has prepared information and resources in their COVID-19 Resource Guide, available at https://www.nami.org/getattachment/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-Updates-on-the-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf, see the “Finding Online Support Communities” info on pages 2-3.

Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network offers two groups open to family and friends.

  • Family Support Group for family members of individuals who hear voices, see visions and sense things that other people don’t. Group virtually meets every other Tuesday.
    May Family Group meetings – May 5th and May 19th, 7-8:30 pm
    Join Zoom Meeting:        https://zoom.us/j/852559947
    Meeting ID:                         852 559 947
    Join by phone:                  +1 646 558 8656
  • Voices Learning Community Group, an introduction to the hearing voices experience, which is open to anyone interested in learning about hearing voices. Please contact Robin Campbell, robin.l.campbell@rhd.org, for information about the May Voices Learning Community Zoom Meeting
  • Additional virtual groups are offered by Hearing Voices USA. More information can be found here, or at this listing of Family Groups.

For Individuals with Mental Health Conditions:

NAMI Main Line’s NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group will meet virtually on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. using Zoom. For more information, please contact Danielle Sulpizio at (484) 880-0660 or Ed Kane at (484) 744-0860.

NAMI Connection Recovery Support Groups offered by NAMI Montgomery County will meet using Zoom.
Zoom link for ALL Connection groups: https://zoom.us/j/459376426 or dial in option: 1-929-205-6099 meeting ID 459 376 426.
Meetings will take place on:
1st Mondays at 5 p.m.
1st and 3rd Saturdays at 10 a.m.
2nd and 4th Thursdays at 7 p.m. (through APRIL ONLY) then moves back to 2nd and 4th Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

NAMI Bucks County will be offering multiple support groups for individuals with mental health conditions. Please see the schedule at https://namibuckspa.org/support/online-support-groups/.

Hearing Voices Network
These groups are accessible via web-based platforms and by phone.  They hold all the same values as groups that meet in community! Online groups are specifically for those with personal lived experience with hearing voices, seeing visions, and/or negotiating alternative realities.  They are voice-hearer facilitated. With further questions and for details on how to access the group please email info@hearingvoicesusa.org.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
DBSA online support groups provide people living with depression and bipolar disorder a place to share experiences, discuss coping skills, and offer hope to one another. DBSA support groups are peer-led, meaning they are facilitated by someone living with a mood disorder. Currently there are groups for peers, young adults, and friends and family members. For more information, to view the meeting schedule or to sign up for a group, please go to https://www.dbsalliance.org/support/chapters-and-support-groups/online-support-groups/.

Youth MOVE PA Virtual Drop-In Meetings
The age range for these chats is from 14 to 29 years old and we will be talking about ourselves, what we like, and discussing a specific topic during each meeting. This gives us some distraction from the anxiety that can arise from being stuck inside all the time.
Youth MOVE PA meetings will be on Zoom every Monday and Friday from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Meetings will continue to be moderated by Zack, Aaron, and Tristan and we look forward to chatting with you!
Meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/410999098
Meeting ID: 410-999-098

NAMI National has prepared information and resources in their COVID19 Resource Guide, available at https://www.nami.org/getattachment/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-Updates-on-the-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf, see the “Finding Online Support Communities” info on pages 2-3.

For Healthcare Professionals:

Step by Step – Covid-19 Essential Workers Support Group
Starting on Wednesday May 20, Mental Health Association of Pennsylvania will host a regular online support group for COVID-19 essentials workers. This group is designed to provide mental health support through peer gathering and discussion.
Step by Step – Covid-19 Essential Workers Support Group
Dates and Times: The first two groups are May 20, 10:30 AM-11:30 AM and May 27, 6 PM-7 PM. Starting June 10, the groups will run the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of every month, 6 PM-7 PM. To Register, click here. Once you register, you will receive WebEx login information.

Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia (JFCS) has compiled mental health resources to support the unique needs of healthcare professionals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Go to www.jfcsphilly.org/supportforhealthcareprofessionals for:
– Virtual Support Forums: drop-in support group sessions every Tuesday and Wednesday
– Resources: content on mental health as well as managing anxiety and stress from our clinical team
– Mindfulness Tools: practical tools for staying in the present
– Articles: an opportunity to explore mental health resources in more detail from JFCS staff and outside experts
– Click with JFCS for Healthcare Professionals: a series of helpful videos from JFCS experts on self-care

Wellness Chats for ALL

NAMI Main Line is offering Wellness Chats – a place for anyone – to come together virtually to share how you are handling your wellness and challenges. Wellness chats will be held on Tuesdays from 5-6 p.m., as long as social distancing is required in the greater Philadelphia area. To improve security, we have changed the Zoom link; to get the new Zoom link, please register at  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYsdeuvrj0sE9OGjCW6-Yc1bmhBVVshBjjy. We will keep your registration strictly confidential.

NAMI Montgomery County is offering NAMIWellness Chats – a place FOR ANYONE – to come together virtually to share how they are handling their wellness – the good, bad, and ugly while we are practicing social distancing.

Chats will be held every Monday and Wednesday at 2 pm. The information to join the wellness chats are as follows:
Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/869323845?pwd=UFJlVzQvN0twbEg4MWdWVGs4bGtqZz09
Or Dial In: +1 929 205 6099
Meeting ID: 869 323 845
Password: 314738

Montgomery County Resources and Advocacy

Montgomery County has announced several walk-up COVID-19 testing sites. For more information, go to https://data-montcopa.opendata.arcgis.com/pages/covid-19 and click on the “County Testing Information” button. You will be able to see available testing locations and register for a test.

Recovery / Resiliency Supports and Services

Services continue to be offered through telehealth, and online web meetings.

Adult Mental Health Services Guide
https://www.magellanofpa.com/media/1685/roadmap-to-recovery_adult-mh-services-guide-feb-2017_jan-2018.pdf

Recovery Coaching: Recovery coaching is available at all Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs) in Montgomery County. It is a collaborative process between the program participant and the recovery coach (case manager) that facilitates access to available resources and engagement in treatment and support services. Recovery coaches are trained professionals who focus on educating the participants in the skills necessary to increase self-sufficiency and move forward in recovery.

Peer Support Services: Person-centered, recovery-focused services which are provided by a self-identified current or former participant in behavioral health services known as a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS). CPS are trained and certified to support others in their efforts to build lives in their communities that include meaningful relationships and activities. Peer support services are intended to inspire hope in individuals that recovery is not only possible, but probable. The services are designed to promote empowerment, self-determination, understanding, coping skills, and resiliency through mentoring and service coordination. Peer support services are available at all of the Community Behavioral Health Centers and at 4 additional programs.

Weekly Peer Support Groups: Peer support groups, also known as mutual aid groups, are available nearly every day throughout Montgomery County. Most groups continue to be available virtually during the COVID-19 Emergency. See link for daily schedules: https://www.ciconnections.org/group-schedules

Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network: The mission of the Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network (MCHVN) is to promote recovery, acceptance, and education about the experience of hearing voices.  “Taking Back Our Power” or Hearing Voices Support Groups are an important aspect of MCHVN. These peer support groups do not focus on therapy or treatment, rather they provide a place and an opportunity for individuals to talk about their voice hearing experience without judgement. For more information, download the MCHVN brochure. For group times and locations, see our Group Schedules link.

Circle of Hope: Circle of Hope groups offer community-based peer support. These groups are open to people seeking support for their mental health challenges. The groups provide safe spaces to explore meaning to give an understanding of an individual’s lived experience. The groups uphold a value of mutual acceptance and create opportunities for social networking. The groups emphasize peer-to-peer support. Circle of Hope groups are located throughout Montgomery County, PA and support the concept and effort of creating peer networks. For more information, download the Circle of Hope Brochure. For group times and locations, see our Group Schedules link.

Alternatives to Suicide: Alternatives to Suicide groups are intended as non-judgmental confidential spaces where people can share some of their darkest thoughts without being assumed to have an illness or being assessed for involuntary interventions. It has been learned over time that support to openly explore these thoughts – and the feelings and experiences underneath them- is often the key to moving toward something different. The Montgomery County Alternatives to Suicide groups are not operating virtually, however an online group is available through Western Massachusetts Learning Community, here.

Community Advocates of Montgomery County- offering a virtual Forensic Peer Support group.  Click here for more information!

Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association (PMHCA) and the Pennsylvania Peer Support Coalition (PaPSC) offer an “Adult Virtual Drop-In”, is a topic-driven, social gathering hour that is scheduled twice a week. While we are all house bound during this health crisis, let’s take some time for some good old socialization and conversation. We would love to discuss many different topics such as our “favorite things” and our “go to coping skills” with whoever wants to join us. One topic that is off limits is the COVID-19 virus! Meetings will take place using Zoom on Tuesday and Thursday from 1 pm to 2 pm. Meetings will be moderated by Kathy Quick, Jason Rilogio, and Samantha Harkins. Meeting ID: 131-337-859, Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/131337859

Children’s Behavioral Health Services Guide

https://www.magellanofpa.com/media/1689/childrens-behavioral-health-services-guide_montco_jan-2018.pdf

Family Mentor and Advocacy Network of Montgomery County continues to offer family peer support during the COVID-19 Emergency. Family Peer Support Partners offer help navigating the public child serving systems – behavioral health, juvenile justice, child welfare, education – including helping parents understand parent’s and child’s rights and responsibilities, attending and / or helping prepare for treatment team meetings, appeals, grievances, juvenile justice hearings or other child serving system meetings. For more information, please contact: Clare Higgins, Program Supervisor, 267-977-4930, chiggins@mhphope.org.

Youth MOVE PA is excited to host a “Youth Virtual Drop-In” that is all about getting some social interaction, even if we can’t go out and do our normal things like school, sports, going to the game store, or hanging with our friends. We know how stressful it can be when our routine is messed up and it is just as frustrating when everyone is talking about Coronavirus as if there might be impending doom!! We would like to help you feel better about the outside world and the stress it may bring by meeting new people who join this group. We will be talking about ourselves, what we like, and be discussing a specific topic with each other during each meeting. This gives us some distraction from the anxiety that can arise from being stuck inside all the time. Our meetings will allow any youth, transition aged youth, or young adult on the call between ages 14 to 29. They will be hosted every Monday and Friday from 3:30pm to 4:30pm on Zoom. Meetings will be moderated by Zack Karenchak, Tristan Schnoke and Aaron Zimmerman. Meeting ID: 410-999-098, Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/410999098

MY LIFE Virtual Meetings: Stay Home for MY LIFE – Virtual Youth Fest weekly event features Inspirational speakers, uplifting entertainment and information on a variety of topics important to youth. This free event is held every Thursday – 1-2:30pm Pacific, 2-3:30 Mountain, 3-4:30 Central, 4-5:30pm Eastern. Registration required: https://magellanhealth.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_QmmIAsdkQ72X5ud1v11mqw?fbclid=IwAR1jv9qxgisP3b7cW1EltPRpC6SZmVNf6QX650oOWmHPK9tpOhwxTTZvn6M

Advocacy Opportunities

Community Support Program (CSP) operate in every county and regionally. Montgomery County’s Community Support Program (CSP) brings together individuals that receive mental health services, their family members, providers and the Department of Behavioral Health in an equal partnership to promote recovery and excellence in the delivery of community-based mental health services.  The committee strives to include a balance of people who use services, people who provide services, family members, and interested members of the community at large.  The CSP initiatives continue to grow state, regionally and county wide. As the involvement increases CSP has become a place that feedback can truly be given to the county from individuals that receive services and information can be given that suits the needs and requests of those that attend.

Currently, meetings are virtual, 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., 3rd Thursday of each month We invite all peers, family members and providers/professionals to attend. Please contact Penny Johnson, pjohnson@hopeworxinc.org,  to be added to the invite list for the next meeting, or to receive a copy of the most recent newsletter.

CSP Subcommittees:

  • Advocacy Subcommittee—Works on legislative, policy, communication, budget, voter education and other issues related to mental health services in the county, statewide and at the federal level when relevant. At the direction of the CSP Committee, the Advocacy Subcommittee gathers information on issues, plans advocacy events and creates a monthly newsletter to provide information to the stakeholder network as well as the community at large about the work of CSP. The newsletter also provides updates on new and changing mental health services provided in Montgomery County.
  • Social/Media Subcommittee—Works on facilitating opportunities for people in the CSP community to be more involved in the Montgomery County community. This includes implementing the Community Connections grants, which provide funding for people to participate in a variety of activities. The committee also implements transportation grants that provide gas cards and SEPTA day passes to CSP community members. The annual CSP Poster Art contest is also organized by this committee.
  • Conference Sub-committee – The conference subcommittee will plan and fundraise for the annual Montgomery County CSP Conference.
  • Newsletter Subcommittee—The newsletter subcommittee works to provide information to the public about CSP and mental health advocacy. The newsletter subcommittee is committed CSP recovery principles which is person centered and empowered by stakeholders. Our goal is to provide information through varies media avenue and to create a quality newsletter that includes but is not limited to, legislative advocacy, events, services, personal recovery stories and creative writing such as poems. Please feel free to submit articles and stories to enrich our newsletter. Send to the editor: kathiemitchell8221@gmail.com.

The OMHSAS Mental Health Planning Council provides counsel and guidance to Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ (DHS) OMHSAS in order to ensure an infrastructure and a full array of mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral health services which comply with the mission, vision, and guiding principles of OMHSAS, as well as core principles of the Community Support Program (CSP), Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP), Cultural Competency, and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP). The advisory structure ensures that:

  1. Individuals who have received services, family members, and other stakeholders have the opportunity for meaningful, effective participation in advising OMHSAS.
  2. 2. Information is shared broadly and in a timely manner from stakeholders to OMHSAS and from OMHSAS to stakeholders.
  3. Valuable networking opportunities are available among stakeholders.
  4. There are productive partnerships between OMHSAS and the Planning Council.

The OMHSAS Mental Health Planning Council is comprised of three committees and one subcommittee: Children’s Behavioral Health Committee, Adult Behavioral Health Committee, Older Adult Behavioral Health Committee, and Persons in Recovery Subcommittee. These committees will advise on a broad behavioral mandate to include, but not be limited to, mental health, substance abuse, behavioral health disorders, and cross-system disability.

Meetings are attended by appointed members, state and county staff and elected officials, and are open to the public. Register for the June meeting (virtual) at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3807770801464117006

C/FST Surveys – offer consumers and family members the opportunity to provide feedback on satisfaction, quality of life and service issues to state and county staff and officials, managed care organizations and providers.

Family Empowerment Satisfaction Team (FEST) is currently surveying young people and their parent/caregivers on Youth Acute Inpatient Programs, and will be surveying on Mobile Crisis later in the year. FEST researchers are also interviewing parent/caregivers and teen on their experiences during the COVID-19 Emergency. To receive a copy of FEST’s recent newsletter, which includes recent interviews, survey results, and information about FEST’s upcoming scope of work, please contact Kathy Laws at klaws@mhphope.org.

Tips on Coping

Coronavirus: Mental Health Coping Strategies
(Excerpted from NAMI National Blog By Katherine Ponte, BA, JD, MBA, CPRP on Mar. 20, 2020)

The coronavirus can significantly affect mental health for everyone, but especially for those with mental illness. Both the anxiety of contracting the disease as well as the increase in loneliness and isolation can worsen and trigger symptoms.  Acknowledging, recognizing and acting on mental distress in these uncertain times is key to lessening the impact.

What Can I Do?

With an awareness of mental health risks, we can work towards coping with this challenging situation and reduce the potential impact on our mental health. Here is a list of coping strategies to help get you through these uncertain times.  

Be Mindful Of Your News Consumption The news can be helpful by encouraging precautions and prevention, but compulsively and obsessively reading and watching about the outbreak can be detrimental to mental health.

  • Limit your sources: Rely on only one or two reliable sources of news as misinformation and bad reporting are rampant. The CDC is a great resource for updates and precautions.
  • Practice acceptance: Accept that the news coverage will not answer all your questions or address all your worries. Accept uncertainty. Trust that officials around the globe and the medical community are trying their best to address the situation. 
  • Limit consumption: Consume only what you need to know, what’s most relevant to you and particularly what is happening or anticipated in your own community. Limit yourself to checking one or two times per day.
  • Distinguish between global and local: The virus will not necessarily take the same course in the U.S. as it has in other countries. It’s important to think critically about the information provided and not jump to conclusions. 
  • Ask someone for help: If you feel you need separation from the news, have a friend or loved one filter the news for you, and give you updates based on a reasonable assessment of what’s relevant to you.

Educate Yourself
Learn about coronavirus preventative and precautionary measures from reliable sources such as the CDC. Make a plan for your household needs —a shopping list, a pharmacy list. It may also help to develop an emergency plan, especially for elderly members of the family. 

Stay Connected Stay connected with friends and family by Skype, Facetime, email, messenger and text, especially those who may be isolated. Be ready to listen to their concerns and share yours. Learn effective listening skills to help your friends and loved ones.  

Reflective listening is an excellent communication technique, where you listen to what a person is saying and repeat it back to them. You may help validate their concerns, and show them you understand their concerns, which can help put them at ease. Talking to another person about worries and fears can help, and just knowing that others share them can validate your own fears and worries.  

Social connectedness is critically important to warding off loneliness and resulting depression. See the full blog post for suggestions at https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/March-2020/Coronavirus-Mental-Health-Coping-Strategies.

Take Care Of Yourself
It’s essential to make your health a priority during this time. The critical self-care activities are sleep, physical exercise and a healthy diet. Find ways to address forms of stress, such as journaling, going for walks or calling a loved one. Maintaining a sense of normality and routine can also reduce stress. 

Find Things To Do/Distractions
Activities that distract you from current events can be helpful. Here are a few ideas:

  • Household chores, such as spring cleaning, will give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment when completed. 
  • Free online university courses and courses through cousera, such as Yale University’s most popular class ever: The Science of Well-Being. They offer a great learning opportunity. 
  • Movies are moving from theaters to online. Netflix is also a good option. 
  • TV programming has expanded during the crisis, particularly through streaming services like Netflix. You can also currently stream the Met Opera for free. The NFL and NBA are also offering complementary access to online streaming platforms. 
  • Virtual parishes, which the Pope and other faith leaders are offering, can help maintain religious connections.

Help Others 
The helper principle shows that helping others is also a benefit to the helper. In hard-hit Europe and other impacted communities, people are helping those self-isolating by shopping or running errands for them. Perhaps you can help a family or neighbor in the same way.

Excerpted from NAMI Montgomery County PA and American Psychological Association

  • Limit your news intake. Choose a single news source and decide how much limited time you’ll spend with it each day. Then stick to your plan.
  • Keep connected. Keep in touch with friends and family by talking on the phone, using Zoom, Face Time or other web-based platforms, texting, etc.
  • Look to the past. Get hope from your past resilience. You have likely endured other unforeseen major life disrupters like 9/11, major hurricanes, or the financial meltdown of 2008. You made it through! And you are stronger because of it. Know that you will get through this. Remind yourself of your resilience on a regular basis.
  • Look after your neighbors. You may be at low risk of severe consequences from the virus, but it may not be the same for your neighbors whose immune systems are compromised. The act of checking in on them (keeping six feet apart, of course) will not only make them feel good, it will make you feel good and remind you that there are others for whom this predicament is even more stressful.
  • Take advantage of found time. Spend time on projects/activities around the house you never get to; clean a closet, play board games, build a puzzle.
  • Practice random acts of kindness. Your kindness doesn’t require a monetary outlay. Write an unsolicited review for a favorite business. Comment on a colleague’s LinkedIn post. Mail a note of appreciation to a friend or colleague. Thank the custodians in your building or workplace for their efforts to keep things safe. Think of those who could benefit from your thoughtfulness and generosity. Then act.
  • Take a daily inventory. Close your day, every day, with a positive acknowledgement of something you accomplished, learned or are grateful for. It will help dilute some of the negativity you’ve absorbed and remind you that not everything that’s happening right now is bad or depressing.

In times of constant negative messaging, you need an antidote so that you can keep your positive attitude. Be deliberate in activities that are positive, heartwarming, stress reducing and laughter inducing (see our suggested diversions)! Together, we’ll get through this.

Harriet Zilber, a licensed clinical social worker in suburban Philadelphia, writes about eleven helpful/new strategies and greater reliance on self-care, in order to thrive and be there for friends, family, and other important people in our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read “Maintaining your equilibrium during COVID-19” at https://serendipstudio.org/oneworld/mental-health/maintaining-your-equilibrium-during-covid-19,

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior was online for a special chat about maintaining your mental health during the outbreak. View the Chat Transcript: Ways to maintain your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak at https://live.washingtonpost.com/baggage-check-live-coronavirus-mental-health.html.

Diversions

Last updated, May 2020.

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