Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19
Minding Your Mental Health during a Crisis
As events, challenges, and responses continue to develop around the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is transfixed on news and articles. Most of these focus on beating the virus. But as the crisis itself creates stress, friction, and anxiety, mental health – of individuals as well as of communities - is also increasingly vulnerable and at risk worldwide.
How to address people’s psychosocial needs, how to take care of our mental well-being, in this new, if hopefully temporary, norm?
Asia Society Philippines has compiled some simple but vital Self Care Tips for Mental Health
1. Breathe and stay calm
A pandemic is a rare - and for most of us, new – phenomenon. It is beyond any single person’s control, and so it can be overwhelming for some. It naturally triggers anxiety. But pandemics have in fact been beaten in the past. By scientists, by governments, by all nations and sectors working together. Knowing that should give us a starting point to breathe.
Remain calm. COVID can make us feel helpless. Regain your sense of control. How? By focusing on things that you actually have control of. Your body, your thoughts, your home. Control your body. Practice some conscious breathing exercises. Take time for meditation. And engage yourself in distractions or activities.
2. Engage more in healthy activities
It is strongly recommended for people to engage in healthy activities they enjoy yet find relaxing. You would know best what would soothe you and preoccupy your mind with better vibes. There are no rules to homing in on your peace! Healthy activities can include your personal rituals of hygiene, fixing and managing your surroundings, establishing daily routines – all within the bounds of ‘social distancing’, of course. See these temporary moments of isolation as opportunities to create new routines that are still productive and rewarding.
3. Stay connected
Even if in self-isolation, it is important to stay connected. Checking in on family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, especially those who are in need of extra assistance, via phone or social media. Staying connected also includes spending extra quality time with loved ones. Having someone to talk to can be very helpful during days that one can find overwhelming. “Social Distancing” is a misnomer. The real call is for “physical distancing”, the effect should be for social solidarity.
4. Take breaks from breaking news
We all want and need to be informed and updated. That comes with regaining our sense of control. But recognize that information overload can also add to anxiety. Manage your anxiety by catching up on news at specific times of the day. Make it PART of your routine, not THE routine. Some mental health associations and organizations recommend building a news reading or watching routine that takes place just once or twice a day.
Of course, avoid fake news. Make sure to read or watch only from credible sources such as the WHO and local health authorities. Avoid misinformation and further distress.
5. Take online consultations (if needed)
Thanks to technology already at your fingertips, mental health professionals and organizations remain available and accessible.
Here are some online consultations/psychotherapy and workshops available in the Philippines:
1. National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline (NCMH-USAP)
Service: It provides mental health support for all affected by COVID-19
Contact: 0917-899-USAP(8727) or 7-989-USAP (8727)
2. Philippine Mental Health Association, Inc. (PMHA) Online Support
Service: Provides mental health support for all affected by COVID-19
Contact: 0917-565-2036 or firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
3. UP Diliman Psychological Services (UPD PsychServ)
Service: Provides telepsychotherapy services for healthcare frontliners
4. Ateneo Bulatao Center for Psychological Services
Service: Provides online counseling and Psychological First Aid with priority given to frontliners
Service: Provides online counseling for all affected by COVID-19
Contact: 0917-709-6961 or 0997-561-8778
6. Circle of Hope Community Services, Inc.
Service: Provides TeleMental Health Services to promote effective coping and resiliences for healthcare workers
Contact: 0917-822-2325 or 0925-557-0888
7. Heart and Mind Counseling & Training Center
*Other online counseling can be searched online.
Don’t forget: Mental Health is as important as Physical Health.
Looking for a video and a few more tips on how to manage anxiety during the pandemic?
Check out the BBC’s Coronavirus: How to protect your mental health or MentalHealthPH’s Facebook page (facebook.com/mentalhealthph) for amazing and helpful resources. You can even join their awesome daily activities to #RecoverTogether.
Feel free to share this article to family, friends, and members of the community. Keep healthy and be safe. We’re #InThisTogether!
Basic self-care tips are gathered from the World Health Organization and the Philippine Mental Health Association, Inc.
Online consultations linked above are gathered from Facebook groups on Anxiety, Panic Attack & Depression (Manila, Philippines).