The outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause a variety of emotions in adults. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background and the community you live in.
Recently, there has been an uptick in calls to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine. NAMI is beginning to track calls related to concerns and anxiety around COVID-19. For some, anxiety can rise to a clinical level during an outbreak. People should be aware of symptoms including difficulty sleeping, changes in eating patterns, rapid changes in mood, inability to carry out required or necessary tasks, self-medication using alcohol and drugs and prolonged self-isolation. Preventative measures such as social distancing and quarantines can also inhibit access to vital health care for people with serious mental illnesses. NAMI is developing resources to direct people to possible technology solutions, such as virtual therapy sessions. Access the NAMI COVID-19 Guide here.
People with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Website.
- Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions.
- Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event
- Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt)
- Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic
- Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy
- Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19
- Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for you family and patients as you did before the outbreak
- You can find resources on the CDC website to help with stress and coping.