Navigating amid a worldwide pandemic is one of the hardest experiences to handle. Many are in areas where the coronavirus infection rates are getting worse. Others are bracing for what may come next. And most of the country are watching the headlines and wondering, “When is this going to end?”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic downturn have taken a toll on mental health for many people, with over 30% of adults in the U.S. now reporting symptoms consistent with an anxiety and/or depressive disorder. KFF polling during the pandemic has consistently found large shares of the public saying that worry and stress related to the coronavirus have had a negative effect on their mental health.
The Family & Children’s Services COPES COVID Emotional Support Line team is certainly aware of the toll the coronavirus has had on Tulsans and the surrounding areas. The team that manages the hotline say there has been an uptick of phone calls in the past few weeks as people struggle to cope.
“We still have six percent of calls related to COVID whether it’s vertical stressors, or the person identifying that they’ve had financial distress, a family loss or feeling more isolated,” said Emily Farmer, COPES clinical supervisor. “Most of them are dealing with symptoms of anxiety and depression. The isolation is a big part of what we’re seeing with COVID because people are not able to access their normal support – whether it’s family or friends.”
Although self-distance and quarantining has affected most callers, Emily said the best way to cope is to try to find purpose through engagement – whether it is through Zoom, phone calls or taking frequent breaks outside.
“People that don’t usually deal with mental health issues or have no history realize that they need to figure out what solution works best for them,” she said. “We encourage people to make those connections, find support, and be purposeful about scheduling interactions. We’re not used to having to be that purposeful. Remember to use smaller coping skills that one might not even recognize to help through the day – whether it’s listening to music or taking a break.”
Reaching out to mental health professionals is important which is why the COPES COVID Emotional Support Line was established in March. For anyone having a hard time coping and adapting during this pandemic, trained mental health professionals are available 24/7 by phone to support and help anyone develop new ways to cope during COVID. There is no cost to call the hotline.
“People that don’t usually deal with mental health concerns might not recognize that a lot of situational things happen when there are struggles like this, and so mental health care (whether it’s counseling or other types of treatment like psychiatry) can be a short-term solution,” Emily said.