Mental health is as important as physical health during the pandemic. Being isolated from loved ones and friends, being quarantined with your spouse and kids, being separated from loved ones who are ill and being unable to properly say goodbye to people you have lost, and simply being afraid of what’s going to happen next produce anxiety, stress and depression.
Lisa Catania, LCSW of Beverly Therapists said, “Many fears and hardships that are getting triggered by the pandemic, causing stress, anxiety, and depression to increase for most people.” The constantly changing news reinforces a loss of control. Most people fear that they or a loved one will become sick.
“While fear or anxiety helps us to be cautious and adopt new shelter-in-place behaviors quickly, many feel petrified to the point of experiencing sleeplessness, irritability, fear of leaving their house and any contact with others. We can have a hard time knowing where to draw the line between caution and paranoia,” Catania said.
Other stressors like working from home or losing a job, homeschooling and even doing essential tasks like going to the grocery store provoke emotional responses and fears that affect relationships as well as a sense of personal safety.
“Very few of us have been through such a historical hardship,” Catania said. “As a society, we are collectively experiencing the discomforts of vulnerability. Thankfully, counseling lends itself well to telehealth, and most insurance policies are covering teletherapy during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Given the strain of the pandemic, regarding many issues such as isolation, financial stress, illness, grief, trauma, it is very important that people are accessing therapy,” said Kathleen McShane, MA, LCPC, CCTP, Director of Begin Within Therapy. Their practice is advocating for longer term coverage for Telehealth therapy, and they have a petition with over 16,000 signatures supporting that need as the stay-in-place executive orders are extended.
Mental health professionals advise people who are feeling stressed by the pandemic to a break now and then from watching the news during the pandemic, make sure to eat healthy meals and get exercise, get plenty of sleep, take deep breaths and meditate, engaging in activities you enjoy, talk to people you trust about your concerns, and avoid alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
Sometimes it takes more than following these simple suggestions to help cope with overwhelming circumstances and thoughts.
To help neighbors take care of the added stress and uncertainty created by the restrictions of COVID-19, counseling is available as a telehealth option, and locally provided by therapy offices.
Beverly Therapists, 10725 S. Western, 773-310-3488 or beverlytherapists.com. The team of therapists at Beverly Therapists has shifted to offer counseling assessment and ongoing therapy through telehealth during this uncertain time. Sessions are private and available by phone or computer with therapists who are trained in teletherapy. Access this option through their website, where you can also read helpful blog posts, find mental health resources and find comfort in empowering advice.
Begin Within Therapy, 3301 W. 111th St., 312-469-0486 or beginwithinchicago.com. This group of therapists is available to help current and new clients manage the uncertainty of these times. Sessions are provided online and confidential.
Mirjam Quinn & Associates, 10801 S. Western, 2B, 708-586-7357 or mirjamquinnandassociates.com.
“Life doesn’t stop during shelter-in-place, and neither should your mental health support.” That excellent advice is on the Mirjam Quinn & Associates website, along with a link to easy online talk therapy (mirjamquinnandassociates.com/easy-online-talk-therapy/). Services include “coping during shelter in place,” one-time, one-on-one sessions with a trained counselor as well as regular sessions.
OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center can connect people in need with SilverCloud, a secure, anonymous and interactive platform to help you manage the feelings and causes of depression, anxiety or stress. The free app is available on phone, tablet or computer and consists of up to seven interactive modules that include mindfulness exercises, interactive journaling, and mood or lifestyle charting. Connect at https://www.osfhealthcare.org/mental-health/resources/silvercloud/
Free mental health counseling resources are available to Chicago residents. Among them are:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Chicago Helpline, 311 or 833-626-4244; www.namichicago.org/helpline
Chicago Department of Public Health Mental Health Centers, 312-747-1020.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7, free and confidential support 800-273-8255; suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Illinois Department of Human Services Mental Health Division free emotional support text line for people suffering from mental health issues related to COVID-19; text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0.