A Mental Health Professionals Guide to Coping with Social Distancing

  • By cvbizz
  • April 11, 2020
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Rhonda B. Billingsley, MS, LPC was able to give me a few moments of her time to discuss our mental health during this very uncertain time in our country—the Covid-19 quarantine and our attempt at social distancing. With the utilization of telehealth appointments, counselors likewise are now offering “tele-visits” and have been working very demanding schedules. I was very appreciative of the time she could give me to pass along some great information!

Mental health is so important at a time like this. We should all take the time to care for ourselves and those around us who might be struggling as we go through the weeks ahead.

Licensed and practicing since 2016, Rhonda shared her strategies for those of us who may need added coping mechanisms to keep from going stir crazy. Here are her suggestions:

Social Distancing: Healthy Coping Suggestions

  1. Stay connected. Don’t let yourself feel so isolated. With technology at our fingertips, join a support group and communicate. This can be family, friends, church family or even online support groups. Also, don’t lose sight of the fact that this is only temporary. Things will get back to normal.
  2. Find something you enjoy and do it! Think of the things that brought you joy before this happened. Do you like to read? Watch movies? Exercise? Play games? Enjoy religious activities? You can still do all of these things at home in a safe way. Get back to the things you enjoy doing!
  3. Think positive. Your focus is important. Focus on the things you can do right now. Look to what gives you meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. Take small breaks from stress and enjoy the moment.
  4. Remember you are a role model. Children copy what they see. Your response teaches your children how to respond in times like these, and those they will encounter in the future. What they understand of the world around them depends on you.
  5. Turn down and tune out media (especially around your children). Stay informed but do your best to not saturate your child with media right now. Children do not need to see or hear all the gloom and doom. Reassure them that they are safe and that you are doing everything in your power to protect them. You can do this by maintaining structure and routine. So yes, routine is very altered for everyone right now, but what you can keep the same, do. Is your routine bath, a story, and bedtime? Is it a little earlier or later than before all of this? That is ok, just keep that routine at whatever time it needs to be. As much as possible keep wake up times and bedtimes the same. This gives them security when they know what happens next. A creative and fun activity is making a picture schedule. Sit down with your children and color a picture of the day’s activities. Include times like the following: wake-up, brush your teeth, get dressed, schoolwork, breakfast, lunch, outside time, feed the pets, etc. and put them together in the order of how the day will go. You can make this a flip chart, or small enough to put on the fridge. This helps them to pass the time and not ask so many questions of “what are we doing next?”.
  6. Watch for signs of a mental health crisis. If you or a loved one begins to show signs of being overwhelmed or spiraling out of control with anxiety, depression, grief or their mental health deterioration seek help! Here are some signs to watch for: excessive loneliness, boredom, fear, anxiety, stress, panic, obsessive thoughts, thoughts of harming others or themselves, and a decline in the ability to take care of daily needs. We are all in this together, and we all need a little help from time to time. There is no shame in getting help!

Look here for help

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health has set up a community response line. These lines are staffed 24/7 with and intervention team and counselors. They can be reached at 1-833-364-2274.

The National Suicide Prevention Line is also available at 1-800-273-TALK.

A text line has also been created for those in crisis and can be reached by texting HOME to 741741.

All of these lines are 24-hour lines answered by trained counselors.

You can also click on the following link for more information including hospitals and clinics in your area that can assist with mental health needs, SCDMH