MAYVILLE, N.Y: The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stressful for people, families, and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children especially when being asked to practice social distancing and other measures to prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 to vulnerable populations.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The emotional impact of an emergency on a person can depend on the person’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community, and the availability of local resources. People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the outbreak in the media.
“This outbreak exacerbates anxiety and stress in those who may already have mental health conditions and may have effects on those considered in good health. Fear and worry are common reactions, but we all need to take precautions to protect our own mental health status as well as our physical health status and that of your loved ones during this time,” said Pat Brinkman, Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services. “Be aware of changes in sleep or eating patterns. It is common to have difficulty relaxing or concentrating. Take the steps to take care of yourself to prevent worsening of chronic health problems, and avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.”
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans during an emergency and monitor for any new symptoms. If you need to seek treatment, please call one of the County Behavioral Health Clinics in Jamestown at 716-661-8330 or in Dunkirk at 716-363-3550. The staff at the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene is here to help.
Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disaster. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help.
Call your healthcare provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row. If you, a friend, or loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911, or if you are experiencing a personal crisis or are in emotions distress, call the Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline at 1-800-724-02461.
Misty Pennington, Interim Director of the Dunkirk Behavioral Health Clinic also has some suggestions, “Go outside as much as possible and do other things you enjoy that do not require being around large of groups of people.” Pennington continued, “Other simple things you can do yourself include avoiding excessive media coverage, taking care of your body by eating healthy meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. One of the best things to do is to continue healthy relationships and connect with others while maintaining a sense of hope and positive thinking.”
Additional information and resources on mental health care can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website www.SAMHSA.gov.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline can be reached at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. People with deafness or hearing loss can use their preferred relay service to call 1-800-985-5990.
For more information about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and additional resources please visit. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.