Mental Health, the holidays and COVID: Frontier Health offers free counseling

Published 3:58 pm Thursday, November 12, 2020

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COVID-19 can affect anyone. This can be physically AND mentally.
To help combat these mental health effects, Frontier Health has established a COVID hotline. 
The Frontier Health COVID Virtual Crisis Counseling Service aims to provide aid to those impacted by the pandemic or other disasters in the area. The service was established a couple of months ago, and is grant funded. It is for anyone, patient or not, who wants to talk and share concerns or fears about the virus. Here, resources can be shared and people can be counseled. 
This service is FREE, and can be used from 12-10 p.m. seven days a week. The number is 833-434-2684.
According to Tim Perry, Senior Vice President of Children’s Services at Frontier Health, since early on in the virus, patients have reported effects to mental health.
“Early in the pandemic a survey was done asking people how the pandemic was affecting their mental health. About 30 percent reported then that they were having unusual or adviser mental health around anxiety, depression, emotional instability,” he explained. “By June or July, the next survey that went out showed it was up to about 50 percent. Now we are into November and we are seeing that increasing in the effect this virus has on mental health.”
Perry explained that in addition to factors like depression and anxiety, other issues like feeling hopelessness, uncertainty and fear, and even substance abuse.
“A key term we are hearing right now is COVID Fatigue,” he said. “It’s not the physical fatigue that comes with the virus, but an emotional fatigue that a lot of individuals are experiencing as a result of the length of time we have been in this pandemic.”
As the holidays approach, mental health could be challenged even more by the virus. 
Perry explained that the compounded issue is a mix of the usual holiday stress added to by COVID stress, which can be very difficult for some people. He provided some tips and advice for this holiday season and mental health. 
1. Take things one day at a time. 
– “Don’t try to project on the what ifs/what might happen,” said Perry. “We’re all going through this one day at a time. Instead of worrying about what could happen, let’s worry about what is happening and get through it one day at a time. 
2. Allow yourself to make mistakes and poor judgement. 
– Realize that you are not always going to say and do the right thing.
3. Find creative ways to connect with families. 
– While this is a holiday season unlike any other, remaining connected to loved ones and friends is what the holidays are all about. Perry urges finding creative ways, like video chatting, to enjoy time with individuals you may not be able to physically see during this time. 
4. Be open with children.
– “With kids, it is important to explain all through the process about why these restrictions are in place, especially as the holidays draw near and they want to be with friends and family,” said Perry. 
5. Be patient.
– Be patient with the usual expectations that one may have set at the holidays. 
– Don’t stress over perfection, allow room for imperfections.
6. Recognize that things are going to be different this year, and that’s OK. 
“We will get through this, we will adjust to this and we will survive this,” said Perry.

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