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Mental Health in Quarantine

IN THE May 16 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andMental Health,
andRebecca Potts
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by Rebecca Potts

Mental Health Awareness Month coincides this year with one of the most damaging events on mental health this country has ever seen—the Coronavirus Pandemic. We’ve been sheltering in place in California for more than fifty days now, and the uncertainty ahead is heavy to carry and more than most can handle.

Let me start by saying, it is perfectly fine if it’s feeling too heavy to carry. Uncertainty is a huge psychological stressor and is wreaking havoc on communities across America. This is why we’re seeing more and more protests and calls to open cities, towns, and states back up without a plan to mitigate the spread of the virus—the uncertainty is more terrifying for a lot of people.

As someone living with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and OCD, a pandemic is my worst nightmare. My already obsessive cleaning has reached seriously neurotic levels, I haven’t left my house in months, and I practically boil my clothes after I come home from a walk. It’s exhausting. Even people who haven’t lived with pathologies are developing them as we try to navigate life with no in-person social connection and no economic certainty for the future. There’s also a psychological element that changes on the Zoom meetings more and more of us are finding ourselves on—constantly being on film is…weird.

Rebecca Potts

Rebecca Potts

That being said, this article will not be about what’s going on in your brain or how terrifying everything is right now or explanations of video conferencing phenomena. It’s not helpful to most of us, and it won’t make us feel better. So that brings us to the million dollar question: What will? Here are a few resources that might help you (and have helped me) to take care of your mental health.

Look for Online Therapy—Is your therapist offering virtual sessions? Many are during this time, and it’s definitely worth checking out. With the shift to video conferencing, you may be able to find a therapist outside of the Valley who is taking on new patients. You can even use an app like BetterHelp or Talkspace to connect with a therapist.

Fresno Department of Behavioral Health—Call the DBH Covid-19 Warm Line at (559) 600-9276 (Hours are Mon-Fri 8-5) or text their Crisis Line (741-741) for non-emergency support. They also have mindfulness videos, resources for pregnant women, information on substance abuse, and more topics and their relationship to the pandemic. All accessible for residents of Fresno County and non-residents alike!

Creative Solutions—This is a big one. Artistic Expression and art therapy have done wonders in the mental health world, and with the cost of therapy rising and mental health resources dwindling, art therapy has become a do-it-yourself coping mechanism that is within many people’s reach. Here are a couple of things you can do:

Start an Isolation Journal (FREE)—I stumbled across a great isolation journal from Suleika Jaouad, an Emmy Award-winning writer, that includes writing about one creative act a day. You can sign up for a daily email that will have a prompt telling you what to write about: a letter to a stranger, explaining a time you lied, a reflection of your time in quarantine. Make it part of your daily routine—which is so important for mental health!

Paint by Number ($15 – $30)—Okay, I haven’t done this yet, but I know so many people who are ordering paint by number kits from Amazon and talking about how calming and relaxing they are. And I have to say, I’m sold. When my adult coloring books are finished, I’m ordering one. Side note, you can download free coloring pages online and print them out to make a coloring book of your own.

Take a free course online—Coursera is home to thousands of free courses taught by professors from over 190 of the top universities across the globe. Their most popular course, The Science of Well-Being, is a “series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits.” The professor, Laurie Santos, teaches at Yale and also hosts The Happiness Lab Podcast that tells you…more ways to be happy! There are few things we could use more of right now.

There are many more resources available throughout the Valley and beyond. We are all dealing with our own personal losses, grief, fear, and pain, and there is help and hope.

For emergencies, call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You are loved, unique, and important, and the world needs you.

Rebecca Potts is a blogger and Academic Coordinator for a Career Coaching Academy. In her spare time, she likes to act, sing, and write whatever comes to mind. She’s been a mental health advocate for years and has shared her story everywhere from California to Australia to help stop stigma. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her fiance and two cats, Spyro and Crash.

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