How to take care of your mental health during the COVID-19 crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has become an unprecedented event in history. It has strained the communities and businesses we love, not to mention the people who fill them. Recently, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 45 percent of adults say the worry and stress of COVID-19 negatively impacted their mental health. And as the effects of the crisis continue to play, there may be heightened moments of loneliness and fear.

But even at home, it is still possible – and necessary – to look after your mental health, regardless of your budget or situation. Below are some ways to do this.

How can I start therapy now?

If you attended a personal therapy before the closing date, you might already be communicating with your therapist via telephone or video chat. If you want to get started, talk to them if the payment has changed and how you should proceed.

On the other hand, maybe the pandemic has inspired you to start therapy (or start again) for the first time. One way to get started is by contacting your insurance company for a list of people who take your insurance. You may also want to check if your employer offers an employee assistance program that includes mental health counseling. Through them you may receive some sessions for free.

NPR also reports that Medicare coverage now includes telehealth visits, virtual check-ins and e-visits. If you are concerned about the cost or do not have insurance, NPR suggests talking to a therapist about a sliding rate, or looking at Open Path Collective, which offers therapy sessions for $ 30-60 .

You can also access online therapy through various websites or apps that use text messaging and video chat. Two of the best-known sites are BetterHelp and Talkspace, and some recommended platforms include Amwell, MDLIVE and Doctor on Demand. Prices vary between sites: MDLive offers sessions for $ 99 out of pocket, while Talkspace pays monthly with plans starting from $ 65 per week. (Talkspace also provides therapy to medical respondents.) Of course, you want to do your own research on individual websites before choosing one that works best for you. The American Psychological Association suggests that you ensure that the site you use is secure, compliant with HIPAA, and that the therapist you are talking to is licensed in your state.

What if I was looking for something more immediate?

If you can’t talk (or don’t want to) talk on the phone or video, but find that you need support, then consider Crisis Text Line. People can contact crisis counselors available 24/7 through the free text arrangement. Counselors are trained to help texts deal with any kind of situation, including anxiety, isolation or sadness. Although the line is not intended to replace long-term counseling, it is a way to access immediate support.

There are also a number of hotlines if you need:

    The CDC has suggestions for dealing with the pandemic, and your state can provide specific resources. (The New York mental health office has an emotional support line as well as mental health tips.) You can also include mental health apps, including Headspace, which helps with meditation and thoughtfulness, and Breathe2Relax.

    What about something more communal?

    You may want to dip your toes in the therapy water before diving into the head first. If so, check out Real, a therapy startup focused on redesigning the psychological experience. Real was supposed to open his first studio for women in New York in early April, but has gone through online pandemics ever since. The company now offers a free monthly suite of digital offerings, including salons and workshops on various topics related to coronavirus, as well as one-on-one mental health visits to therapists.

    Talkspace also offers a free Facebook support group, Alcoholics Anonymous hosts online meetings, and The National Alliance on Mental Illness has hosted a number of other online peer support communities, including Therapy Tribe and 7 Cups.

    Why should I consider therapy now?

    It is important to remember that there is no need for mental health to be in a state of crisis to seek help. "You can literally reach for extra support to process how you feel, find out what unique coping skills you can apply now, or have someone to talk to during this time," says Dr. Amy Cirbus, the director of clinical content at Talkspace.

    In a time when the news is especially scary and horrifying, it can be natural to minimize your own problems and accept that you do not need or deserve support. But Nina Vasan, the chief medical officer at Real and & # 39; a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Stanford, says people need to know it's always okay to feel the way they feel. & # 39; Maybe you didn't go to your friend's wedding or maybe it was that you were really looking forward to your birthday party and that you didn't have it. (There are) things like that that may sound trivial compared to someone who has lost their job. But this is something that was very important to you in your own world. "

    You may be concerned about financial loss or your family members in a vulnerable population. "Women are looked at exaggeratedly to give much of themselves and care, but cannot ask for help or get help," says Vasan. & # 39; I hear many women talk about the fear they have for their parents, and their role in addressing it should something happen. & # 39; Any challenging time can also cause the existing struggle to be strengthened, or even bring back issues that are limp, such as the food and eating habits.

    & # 39; The first step to really getting better is to address it, acknowledge it, and also acknowledge that you are not alone, & # 39; she says. & # 39; Recognition that other people have to do with it. It completely normalizes anxiety. This alone is therapeutic. "

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