Minnesotans urged to take care of mental health during social distancing

Published 1:53 pm Monday, March 23, 2020

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases daily in Minnesota, across the United States and around the world, so do levels of anxiety, stress and worry, according to a press release. For many, these feelings are compounded by social distancing.

It’s important to protect the health and safety of everyone, and the only way to do that is to prevent and slow the spread of the disease through social distancing and other quarantine measures, the release stated, before reminding everyone not to forget to address their mental health.

“Nationally, online screenings for anxiety have increased by nearly 20% over the last few weeks, and for many, social distancing inevitably means isolation and loneliness,” said Shannah Mulvihill, Mental Health Minnesota’s executive director. “It’s essential that people take care of their mental health as well as their physical health at this time, and we are working to share information, resources and suggestions that can help with that.”

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Suggestions for managing mental health concerns during COVID-19/social distancing:

• Check-in with others and connect through more than just email, text and social media. Call or video chat with friends and family to make sure they are OK and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

• Identify things to do to reduce stress and anxiety. Consider what has helped you handle stress in the past, and make adjustments as needed to do those things (i.e. connecting with friends via Facetime instead of over coffee, exercise/yoga videos online instead of a group class, etc.)

• Maintain structure in your day. Many people are now working remotely and/or are at home with their children. Creating structure/schedule in your day can help daily life to feel more “normal.”

• Get outside if you can, even if it’s just in your yard, on a balcony or just opening a window. Fresh air and sunshine can be very helpful in improving overall mood and decreasing feelings of depression and anxiety.

• Take breaks from social media and news articles that are focused on COVID-19. While it’s important to stay informed, too much information can be overwhelming.

• If you’re concerned about your mental health, take a free, anonymous mental health screening at www.mentalhealthmn.org. If you screen positive for a mental health condition, you’ll receive resources and information about next steps.

• Know the resources that can help you, including the following:

Minnesota Warmline: A peer-to-peer line for mental health recovery and social isolation, open 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Toll-free at 877-404-3190 or text “support” to 85511.

Mental Health Helpline: Connections to mental health treatment and services across the state, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Toll-free at 800-862-1799 or via online chat at www.mentalhealthmn.org.

Minnesota Crisis Text Line: Text “MN” to 741741.

Minnesota County Crisis Response: Search by county or zip code at www.mentalhealthmn.org.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255).

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990 or text “talkwithus” to 66746.

For more resources related to mental health and COVID-19/social distancing, visit www.mentalhealthmn.org.