This year, we’ve faced a pandemic unlike anything in our lifetimes. As we get closer to a vaccine for coronavirus, many people in Stark County are still feeling the stressful effects. Fortunately, the stress response is normal during a crisis.
Are you looking for ways to manage feelings of stress and anxiety? Here are some common questions we have received related to mental health, coping with COVID-19 in the community, and an overall stressful year.
How do I keep up with important coronavirus updates without being glued to social media?
Early on in the pandemic, major news was breaking multiple times a day. This got us in the habit of constantly checking our phones and watching the news. Things have slowed down somewhat but being stuck in that cycle is hard to get out of.
We recommend taking breaks from the news to go for a walk, focus on a hobby you enjoy, or even do things around the house. Another way to prevent overwhelm is to check trusted sources like coronavirus.ohio.gov or calling the Ohio COVID-19 call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634). This will limit unnecessary confusion and added anxiety from being overloaded with information.
Since I haven’t seen my family or friends in months, I’m lonely. What do I do?
The inability to safely visit loved ones is hard, especially if you live alone and as we go into winter. Thankfully we can still connect with each other using social media, phone calls and video calls. Try scheduling a weekly trivia night with your friends or hosting a dinner with family members over Zoom.
With the pandemic lasting months and months, you’ve probably missed birthdays, holidays and other important events. However, you can celebrate via video calls, sending a special gift, or even hosting virtual planning sessions for parties when it’s safe to meet up again.
If you’re tired of interacting with friends on social media, why not go in the opposite direction and send some “happy mail?” Getting a postcard or letter in the mail will be a fun surprise for your friends.
Feeling lonely is a tough emotion but know that you won’t feel this way forever.
Over the past few months, I’ve been really tired and experiencing brain fog. How do I fix this?
Most likely you’ve been cooped up in the house, leaving only to get groceries or to go to work. Shake up your routine with a walk around your neighborhood or trying a virtual exercise class. Moving your body can help your mental health. Mental health is health, and health is mental health. It’s all related.
It’s also important to drink water, eat nutritious foods and get enough sleep. Avoiding drugs and alcohol also helps. Be sure to give yourself time to relax and recharge.
If you’re feeling hopeless and anxious, can’t concentrate, are short-tempered, or have noticed a change in your appetite, energy or activity levels—especially for a few days in a row—contact your healthcare provider.
Do I still really have to wear a mask everywhere I go?
Yes. Wearing a mask not only helps protect you, but it also helps protect anyone who is near you from getting or spreading the virus. This is important because you can spread the virus without knowing you have it.
The CDC recommends wearing a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, while maintaining a 6-feet distance from others.
You may think masks are annoying to wear, but you could help save a life. And you can now find them in fun patterns, so get creative and match them with your outfits!
I was let go from my job, and now I’m struggling to buy food and basic necessities. Where can I go for help?
Losing your main source of income can impact a lot, especially the ability to put food on your table. If you’re struggling, many local organizations are offering hot meals and food pantries for Stark County families.
For information related to unemployment, visit Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. They also have resources for Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance Resource Hubs and child care during the pandemic.
I’m afraid of being evicted. How can I get help to pay my rent?
Having a stable home environment can help reduce stress. But if that’s being threatened to be taken away, the stress can ramp up exponentially.
Thankfully, United Way of Greater Stark County is helping people who need emergency financial assistance related to rent and mortgages. Visit their website to learn more.
I’m worried my friend is experiencing more stress than they let on. How can I help them?
When you think your friend is struggling, it can be scary. It can also be difficult to help them, since this year has been hard on everyone.
To start, make sure you’re actively listening to them without judging them or jumping in with your own struggles. You could also ask what they need that would help them. Then, you could provide this (maybe it’s simply sending them a playlist of your favorite songs) or help direct them to it (such as the phone number for a mental health hotline).
If you think your friend is in an abusive situation, you can find resources related to creating a safety plan during COVID-19 on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.
I feel like I need additional help with my mental health. Who can I talk to?
Stark County has many mental health providers who can help you process your thoughts and feelings during this stressful time. There are many options available when it comes to selecting your treatment provider – from family and community-based treatment to group therapy and private counseling.
Remember that you are not alone. Seeking help is a sign of strength.
Here are a few phone numbers to keep on hand in case you feel distressed:
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- 24-Hour Stark County Crisis Hotline & Youth Mobile Response Team: 330-452-6000
- Crisis Text Line: Text 4HOPE to 741-741
- Ohio CareLine: 1-800-720-9616
- Military & Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1
- Military & Veterans Crisis Text Line: Text 838255
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Trevor Project (for LGBTQ+ youth): 1-866-488-7386
You can find even more mental health resources in Stark County on our website.
If you have additional questions about your mental health and other needs related to the pandemic, check out local resources on StarkHelpCentral.com.