The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed our lives in ways we never could have expected. For many people, these changes have been difficult. Now more than ever, it is important to reach out for help if you are beginning to suffer mentally and emotionally.
Here is what we want you to know.
Support groups can help
For people already dealing with mental health concerns, isolation has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic. Humans are social creatures. Many who had relied on community resources for support, such as senior centers, day programs, and wellness centers, were left in vulnerable positions when those gathering places closed. Many people are also experiencing grief as a result of the pandemic, even if they haven’t lost anyone due to COVID-19.
Some people may have flare ups of depression and anxiety as a result. People may even develop new cases of depression and anxiety, even if this wasn’t previously an issue.
Mental health support groups can be a huge help. It’s comforting to know that someone else is going through the same thing you are, that you are not alone. They also give you the opportunity to learn from others. And because many groups are virtual due to the pandemic, it’s easy to log on from whatever device you choose.
Anne Arundel Medical Center’s (AAMC) COVID-19 Loss and Grief Support Group is one of those groups. Sessions are held via Zoom and are for anyone affected by the virus. The group, led by AAMC’s Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, meets Wednesdays from 5-6:30 pm. To join, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for Children
Keep in mind that these are hard times for our kids, too. Their lives – including school routines, activities and gatherings with friends – look completely different today than they did a year ago. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that 71% of parents worry about the effect the pandemic has had on their children’s social skills. Meanwhile, 55% of parents say their children have been acting out more since the pandemic started.
Kids thrive on structure. This is important to remember as the school year begins and many are enrolled in online classes. Build breaks into their schedules and make sure they are getting outside. A little fresh air and sunshine can do wonders.
We encourage parents to make time to talk to their kids and find out how they are coping. Even if you don’t have a lot of extra time these days, a five-minute conversation can make a difference. Pay attention to changes in their eating and sleeping habits and call your doctor with concerns.
AAMC is also working on setting up a COVID-19 support group for teens. To learn more, email email@example.com.
But don’t forget, parents need to look out for their own mental health, too. You can’t take care of anyone else if you aren’t first taking care of yourself.
We are safe, ready and open
If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health issues, whether it’s because of COVID-19 or something else, please don’t hesitate to seek help. Early in the pandemic, we set up telehealth services for patients, allowing them to get care from the comfort of their homes. AAMC’s Psychiatric Day Hospital along with our outpatient clinics offer both in-person and online services.
Our hospital, including our Emergency Department, Pathways and the J. Kent McNew Family Medical Center, all have procedures in place to protect against the spread of COVID-19. We are safe, ready and open for you.
There is always help, and there is always hope.