Let’s talk mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

You’re not alone and you deserve support. We’ll all get through this together.

by Crystal O’Gorman (she/her) | Contributing Writer

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We’re all facing unprecedented times while managing the crisis situation of COVID-19 pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, people often experience psychological distress during high stress times. It’s how we manage it that makes a difference.

Marriage and Family Therapist Valerie Glass (she/her) said, “We are all exhibiting crisis modes in one way or another and everyone does that differently. People do stress differently. Some people go into denial, some hoard toilet paper. Some people will cry, get angry, have sleep issues, lose motivation, and increase use of drugs and alcohol.”

If you’re having trouble managing stress or using unhealthy coping strategies, Glass provides some professional advice to help manage during a crisis.

First, she says it’s important to honor your feelings. Take the time to sit with and recognize your feelings. Then, ask yourself what it means and how you can manage it.

Next, remember to take breaks – from social media, the news, work, school, your quarantine family. Mental breaks help increase productivity and allows the opportunity to check in and see if what you’re doing is really working for you right now.

Then, move your body and get some sunshine. Moderate exercise has proven to reduce stress. Consider taking a break and going for a walk around the neighborhood.

Also, it’s important to find ways to maintain social connections with friends. Whether that’s an online meet up or talking to a neighbor over the fence, reaching out to others helps reduce feelings of isolation.

Most importantly, find ways to externalize frustrations by focusing on what you enjoy doing and manage a regular routine that works for you. This doesn’t mean you have to learn a new language or create a rigid routine but focus on your passions and maintain normal sleep/wake cycles and meal routines.

Allen Assaid (he/his), a financial services consultant said he was anxious leading up to the stay at home order. He had experienced OCD and depression as a young adult, so he wasn’t sure if this would trigger greater emotional distress for him.

He’s social, outgoing, lives alone, and has never worked from home. He was concerned about being stuck at home all day by himself. While he said he misses friends and hugs, he says it’s been better than he imagined. He attributes this to finding ways to continue social engagements online and staying active.

“It’s been important for me to stay busy by finding something positive to do such as walking on a nature trail by my home and celebrating a friend’s birthday with an online party,” he said. “I’ve just decided that I’m going to live my life and I’m not going to let this stop me.”

Dr. Glass said if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression and having a hard time managing it, please reach out for support. Many therapists offer telehealth services.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration created a disaster distress hotline at 1-800-985-5990 and the NC Department of Health and Human Services developed Hope4NC Helpline at 1-855-587-3463.

For young people, you can find support through virtual programming at Time Out Youth Center. The Trevor Project also offers telephone and virtual support services nationwide.

For trans people of all ages, you can find support through Trans Life Line.

And, the LGBT National Hotline provides telephone, online private one-to-one chat and email peer-support.

You’re not alone and you deserve support. We’ll all get through this together.


Crystal O’Gorman (she/her) is a freelance journalist living in Indian Land, SC. She’s an LGBT ally and writes for various publications in North Carolina and South Carolina. She believes storytelling is an important way to connect people, grow introspectively, and provide an opportunity to create equality when so many voices are silenced by dominant discourses. She’s also studying to become a marriage and family therapist. Got a story you want to share? Contact her at crystalogormanwrites@gmail.com.

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