Mental health and coping during the COVID-19 pandemic

NEW YORK (WABC) — Mental health experts have called the pandemic a kind of “perfect storm” for negatively impacting mental health.

In addition to the fear, grief and anxiety around the virus itself, the pandemic has brought on for many people financial instability, job loss, isolation, uncertainty around school and work and related political disagreements.

RELATED: Tips to deal with anxiety as country reopens from coronavirus pandemic

Making the pandemic even more distressing from a mental health perspective, experts have said, is both its all-encompassing nature and the uncertainty that lies ahead.

As the United States crosses the grim milestone of 200,000 COVID-19-related deaths, experts are warning that mental health is becoming increasingly poor.

More than half of U.S. adults — about 53% — reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the pandemic, according to a nationwide poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That number is a significant increase from the 32% who reported being similarly affected in March, showing that as the pandemic continues into its seventh month and the death rate continues to climb, so, too, does the toll on people’s mental health.

Keep in mind that in the U.S., we’ve been kind of in a mental health decline for some years now,” Dr. Rheeda Walker, a professor of psychology at University of Houston and the author of “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health,” told “Good Morning America.” “National reports that have examined mental health have shown increasing stress and increasing anxiety and people feeling increasingly overwhelmed, and that was pre-coronavirus.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:

Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
Worsening of chronic health problems.
Worsening of mental health conditions.
Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.

You may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Resources to help you and others who may be experiencing a mental health crisis

Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: 703-524-7600 or call your local NAMI by visiting their website to find their local number
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat
National Institute on Aging: 1-800-222-2225 or call TTY at 1-800-222-4225
The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructions
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889
Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text: 8388255

Mental Health Helplines

If you are overwhelmed right now, the NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Line is staffed by specially trained volunteers who can help.
Office of Mental Health

Mental Health Association in New York State works to end the stigma against mental illness and promotes mental health wellness through education, advocacy, community-based partnership programming and counseling. For assistance or more information, please call (518)-434-0439.

Get Help Now Don’t wait. Connect with someone who will listen and help.
Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355)

NAMI-NYC Helpline 212-684-3264

The NJ MentalHealthCares helpline offers telephone counseling, emotional support, information and assistance in helping to get behavioral health services needed by you or a loved one. For assistance or more information, please call the toll-free, confidential number: 1-866-202-HELP (4357).
Those who may be having suicidal thoughts should call 1-855-NJ-HOPELINE (855-654-6735).

NJ Vet2Vet, is a toll-free helpline, 866 VETS-NJ4 (866-838-7654) coordinated by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. This support is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

NAMI-NJ Helpline (732) 940-0991

Are you worried about yourself or someone else?
Are you thinking about suicide?
If you live in Connecticut, please take one moment and dial 2 1 1 and press 1. If outside of CT, dial 1-800-273 8255

NAMI-CONNECTICUT Helpline (860) 882-0236

American Psychological Association Tip Sheets
Managing Stress in Tough Economic Times
Stress Tip Sheet
How to Cope With Traumatic Stress
Stress Effects on the Body

Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
Treatment Services Locator Website
Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centers

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