Mental health professionals say social distancing and isolation designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus pose a serious threat to people for whom social contact is a key element of support and treatment.
But there are things you can do to maintain your overall mental health, says Kita S. Curry, PhD, President and CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
Curry spoke to Up News Info Local on Wednesday:
Up News Info Local: What could be the consequences of loneliness during this time?
Kita S. Curry: Research indicates that isolation can negatively affect the health of your mind and body. But, the other way around: feeling connected is not based on the number of friends and family you have in your life. It is based on whether you feel that others really care about you and whether they are there for you.
However, those who live alone have a special challenge right now, because people who can normally be in contact, in person or through technology, can be caught up in all the new challenges of everyday life. On the other hand, if people in a home are locked in separate rooms watching television, playing video games, etc., they may also feel isolated, especially if they are young children or adults without an emotionally satisfying phone or social network. contacts.
The risks of loneliness are compounded by the fact that we are all threatened by a deadly virus over which we have no control, except through hygiene and social estrangement, and see no end in sight. Helplessness and hopelessness correlate with a high risk of depression and other mental health conditions, possibly even suicide.
– Didi Hirsch MHS (@DidiHirsch) March 24, 2020
Up News Info: What worries you most about people during the longest time at home?
KC: I am more concerned with people who are homeless and do not live in enclaves that are equivalent to communities. Much of their contact has been with people who walk to work or with nearby residents who have said "hello,quot; and perhaps also learned their names and / or occasionally gave them food, blankets or money. I know that person who hangs out close to where I work, but now I'm home because I'm in a high-risk group. I am also concerned about all the other homeless people; they are at greater risk of getting sick and less likely to have easy access to care.
I am very concerned about children and adults living in volatile situations at home. The stress of the pandemic, its impact on family finances, and forced proximity increase the likelihood of domestic violence and child abuse. No one will know, and there will be nowhere to run.
"Quarantine and self-isolation are not competencies … It is also okay if you are not inspired, motivated, or productive." – @TheMightySite https://t.co/QhfM3J4Sgu #erasingthestigma #mental health # suicide prevention # COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/dN9bFN3IJy
– Didi Hirsch MHS (@DidiHirsch) March 24, 2020
Up News Info: What are the damages of prolonged cabin fever?
KC: If we don't create a new healthy normality within the confines of our homes, we face a variety of risks, including in homes where domestic violence and child abuse are not an issue. Some of us are likely to have bad habits, either alone or with others, such as excessive alcohol consumption, overeating, etc. Others will be addicted to the news, which only increases anxiety. That concern also means that we are not engaging in positive behaviors and routines. And of course, when we are stressed and trapped, the conflict is likely to escalate.
You can decrease cabin fever by creating a new universe within your home. If you live with others, talk together about how you will do it, but the same principles apply if you live alone. Establish routines; getting up and going to bed at regular times; make the bed; dress like you're dating; eat regular meals; Identify projects you can do, such as gardening, sewing, exercise or Marie "Kondo-ing,quot; your books, clothes, etc.
- Play cards, watch a movie that makes you laugh (it's also good for your health), do craft projects with your children.
- Eat together without smartphones; Cook together
- Take turns checking the alphabet and say what you're thankful for.
2. Give: Research shows that giving to others is good for your mental health
- Send a grocery store gift card or check to someone who knows they need it.
- If you have an abundant fruit tree, take out the extra fruit, with a sign that encourages neighbors to help each other (but explain that you need the basket).
- People who live alone live in silence. Use the phone unless you are hard of hearing.
Coronavirus and childhood anxiety: how to crush fear and strengthen your child. – @PsychToday https://t.co/LEGF1lL30j #erasingthestigma #mental health # suicide prevention # COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/XyxxxaByhQ
– Didi Hirsch MHS (@DidiHirsch) March 25, 2020
Up News Info: How does cabin fever differ for children versus adults?
KC: Children are anxious when they miss school and their friends. They become aware of their parents / caregivers' turmoil without necessarily understanding it and can fill in the blanks with even worse interpretations. Caregivers need to calmly explain what is happening and assure them that these changes will help everyone stay healthy. Children will do better if everything we can control is kept as normal as possible, including predictable times and meals, but also opportunities to be unruly and play. These responsibilities can be seen as burdens or opportunities.