If coronavirus is causing your stress level to surge, you’re not alone. The stress of living through a pandemic is taking its toll on many people and experts are warning it could have lasting effects. Across the globe, people are experiencing a storm of feelings – anxiety about finances, grieving the loss of loved ones, worry about their own health, and coping with loneliness and isolation.
It just so happens it is Mental Health Awareness Month. To help residents, the Town of Surfside has compiled several mental health resources and a list of ways to reduce stress and stay grounded during the crisis.
WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING
Several health organizations, including the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created pages dedicated to mental health during COVID-19. They offer tips to support well-being and relieve anxiety and stress, including taking care of our minds and bodies with meditation, exercise, good diet, adequate sleep, staying connected with loved ones, and making time for enjoyable activities, as well as avoiding alcohol and drugs and taking breaks from the news cycle.
- Yale University Professor Dr. Laurie Santos, who created The Happiness Lab podcast and teaches the most popular class in Yale’s history, the Science of Well-being (now free and open to all on Coursera.com), hosted a Q & A session on Facebook to address mental health during coronavirus.
- Sign up for The Good Stuff, CNN’s weekly newsletter filled with feelgood material. Every Saturday, the newsletter highlights stories that make you smile, plus fascinating discoveries, everyday heroes, inspiring moments and great things happening in your own backyard.
- Actor John Krasinski created a Youtube channel called “Some Good News” that is dedicated to heartwarming, inspiring and uplifting stories from around the world. The episodes have included celebrity guest appearances from Oprah Winfrey, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Hamilton cast, Steve Carell, Ryan Reynolds and many others.
- Ten Percent Happier, co-founded by journalist and author Dan Harris, offers mindfulness meditation courses online and a weekly podcast, featuring scientists and other experts discussing how to stay sane amid coronavirus. Download the Coronavirus Sanity Guide at www.tenpercent.com for free. They also offer free live guided meditation every weekday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Check out the Ten Percent Happier app as well.
- Acts of kindness and volunteering can help ease stress and feelings of helplessness. From writing positive messages with chalk on sidewalks to safely delivering food and supplies to the elderly, there are so many ways to help each other. Learn about volunteer opportunities.
- Take a meditation class or learn to be mindful during this stressful time. The Town of Surfside offers a Just be Mindfulness class taught by local author and mindfulness teacher Nikki Levine every Tuesday at 7 p.m. via Zoom, along with a variety of fitness classes and COVID-19 Support Groups. Additionally, Baptist Health features a number of virtual health classes each week for the community including Meditation and Tips for Emotional Well-being.
- Nova Southeastern University - College of Psychology is hosting webinars focused on mental health tips, anxiety during these times and much more. View the schedule and register.
PARENTING AND SUPPORTING KIDS & TEENS AMID THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
These are difficult times for everyone including kids and teenagers. They need support to express their feelings and feel reassured by the adults in their lives. Luckily, there are a number of resources you can turn to for support:
The Town of Surfside is offering hour-long COVID-19 Support Groups via Zoom for both teens and adults every Friday at 2 and 3 p.m. respectively. The groups are led by licensed psychotherapist Dr. Deborah Dawson, who will share strategies to reduce anxiety and improve moods. Each support group offers an upbeat and welcome way for participants to share any feelings about quarantine and offer support to peers. The group also provides help to parents coping with the challenges of home schooling their kids.
- UNICEF.org posted six ways parents can support their children during the coronavirus pandemic, including creating and sticking to a routine, allowing children to express their emotions and setting aside time to disconnect.
- CommonSenseMedia.org, a well-known leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families, has a resource page for families during coronavirus, including how to navigate learning at home. Available in English and Spanish.
- The coronavirus pandemic can be particularly difficult for the families of essential staff members, like healthcare workers, which is why the Jackson Behavioral Health Hospital team created a printable activity book to help the children of those serving on the frontlines manage their thoughts and fears during this stressful time. The book is a blast for everyone!
THE PERKS AND PERILS OF WORKING FROM HOME
If working from home is proving more stressful than being at the office, you’ll want to read this Business Insider story. It features advice from Google’s in-house productivity expert who shares new ways to stay motivated and cope with the stress.
On the brighter side, working from home means you get to avoid tolls and the daily commute, which in South Florida is a significant cause of stress. In this post, Mental Health America explores some of the health benefits of remote and flexible work.
ACCESS LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ONLINE
- The University of Miami (UM) Health System offers telemedicine services for families, including parent-child interaction therapy for children ages 2 to 7. Appointments are available Monday – Thursday, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. To make an appointment, call 305-243-0234. UM also has virtual medical appointments for adults through its UM Virtual Clinics program, including psychiatry.
- Access Mental Health Counseling services through the Baptist Health Care On Demand app. Therapists are taking appointments for families and children age 10 and older. Health insurance does not apply. The cost per session is $99. Download the app to make an appointment.
- Chrysalis Health, a contractor for Miami-Dade Public Schools, is taking appointments via telemedicine for children and adults, and accepts Medicaid and private health insurance plans. The website also offers 24/7 client crisis support.
NATIONAL AND STATE CRISIS HOTLINES
- The Florida Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873, Florida Relay 711 or TTY 1-800-955-8771. Or report abuse online.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness – Miami-Dade County offers virtual support and phone counseling. Call 305-665-2540 formental healthresources in English and 786-308-9680 for resources in Spanish.
- The Salvation Army mental health support hotline at 1-844-458-HOPE (4673). Counselors (English and Spanish) are available from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. You can also visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray and request a call from a pastor.
- Florida Blue’s bilingual, toll-free hotline at 833-848-1762. This FREE service is available 24/7.
- The Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS) provides counseling, crisis response and information, and referral services. For assistance, call 2-1-1 or 305-576-6550.
GETTING HELP FOR SUBSTANCE ABUSE
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Service provides free and confidential information in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. SAMHSA’s Toll-Free Treatment Referral Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357). View the Online Treatment Facility Locator.
In the Rooms is an online recovery website and community offering various resources and hosting about 130 free virtual meetings, such as Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. For general inquiries, call 1-800-817-9497.