Submitted by Community Health Plan of Washington.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington communities are experiencing increased levels of anxiety, depression and social isolation due to COVID-19. Last week, Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW) hosted a virtual event to share mental health advice and resources to help Washingtonians manage their own mental health and support their loved ones through these difficult times.
During the conversation, Blake Edwards, Behavioral Health Director of Columbia Valley Community Health, Dr. Paul Sherman, Chief Medical Officer of CHPW, and Dr. Terry Lee, Senior Behavioral Health Director of CHPW, discussed general advice, seasonal affective disorder, managing relationships and more.
A few top tips from the event include:
- If you are unsure where to go for mental health counseling and don’t have a primary care provider or health insurance, there are other resources across the state. Washington’s 27 community health centers and specialized behavioral health centers like Consejo Counseling and Referral Service can connect you with the right person. If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, call either the Washington Recovery Help Line at +1 (866) 789-1511 or Washington Listens at +1 (833) 681-0211.
- To manage isolation during the holidays, remember to take care of yourself and nurture existing relationships with routine video calls with your loved ones. You can also look to integrate exercise and new hobbies into your routine. Additionally, if a loved one is experiencing isolation, take time to connect with your relative over the phone or a video call. You can even ask your own family and friends to engage with your loved one as well to expand their social circle.
- If you have symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, try getting a source of light by going outside 30 to 60 minutes a day (even when cloudy) or purchasing a lightbox. However, if you are feeling restless, connect with a healthcare professional to discuss the next steps together.
- If you are worried about your child’s emotional well-being, look out for behavior changes like a shorter attention span or growing irritability and connect with a mental health provider. Since children under the age of 11 have a difficult time expressing emotions verbally, you can help younger children process their feelings by roleplaying a conversation with stuffed animals.
If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. A Washington State Department of Health’s November 2020 behavioral health report found 1.8 million Washington adults are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and almost 1.2 million adults reported experiencing symptoms of depression on most days. Visit CHPW’s wellness blog for more mental health tips or watch the full discussion here.