Taking Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19

June 9, 2020

by Kristi Osborne, Psych NP, Senior Care Program at Starr Regional Medical Center

When it comes to our protection during the current COVID-19 pandemic, we can preserve our physical health via:

  • Adhering to CDC guidelines
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Hand washing
  • Wearing masks in public spaces

While these practices are vital to the health and wellbeing of our communities, there is another important facet of health that should not be ignored during this time – our mental health. It is imperative to be vigilant in assuring the physical health of ourselves and those around us, while also paying due diligence to the preservation of our mental health as well.

Mental health has a salient influence on overall health and well-being. Not only does it have direct repercussions for work productivity, decision-making, and stress management, but it can also have physical consequences when left unchecked. Furthermore, stress has a direct impact on our immune system. When stress is not dealt with adequately, it can compromise the body’s ability to fight off illness.

Mental health issues are very common, affecting millions of Americans annually. In the wake of COVID-19, many are faced with unforeseen physical, social and economic challenges that can elevate stress, depression and other mental health issues and even have an impact in those who normally are not affected by these conditions. The bottom line? If you are suffering, you are not alone.

The good news is that there are some things you can do to help alleviate stress and boost your mental health – not just during the challenges we are facing today, but in all situations:

  • Checking-in regularly with family, friends and work colleagues
  • Taking time to relax, recharge and rest
  • Getting outside with safe social distancing, and getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your day
  • Spending quality time doing something you love, whether it is a hobby, reading a good book or watching a favorite movie or television show
  • Maintaining healthy, nutritious eating habits and staying hydrated
  • Avoiding unhelpful coping strategies like alcohol, drug and tobacco use
  • Focusing on the things that you can control while accepting what you cannot
  • Avoiding excessive time watching news and social media

Another thing to remember about mental health? It is okay to talk about it. A safe, supportive and accepting environment is important regardless of the severity of one’s condition. While most people wouldn’t think twice about seeing a doctor for chest pain or other serious physical symptoms, it is equally important to proactively seek help and medical attention if you or a loved one are experiencing mental health challenges.

How about some more good news? Mental health challenges can improve and resolve. In fact, most people who seek treatment for a mental health challenge show improvement. If you are experiencing a mental health issue, the benefits of seeking help and treatment can make a positive difference in your overall quality of life.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress or another mental health condition, the Senior Care Program at Starr Regional Medical Center is able to safely provide help. Located on the Etowah campus, Senior Care is a secure unit for older adults (age 50 and older) who are experiencing psychiatric symptoms that require 24-hour acute inpatient treatment. Care is provided by a multidisciplinary team of nurses, social workers and activity/occupational therapists under the direction and supervision of a psychiatrist.

Visit StarrRegional.com for more information about our Senior Care Program or call 423-263-3600. For more information on mental health, visit www.mentalhealth.gov.

Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be reached at 800-273-8255 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.