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The Counseling Center

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Mental Wellness During COVID-19

Jon Brashear, Director of Mental Health Services,The Counseling Center

To state the obvious, things are stressful out there.

COVID-19 has not only impacted the way we function within our day-to-day lives, but in many cases the way we feel about everything else around us. Take a look at your social media account–if your feed is like mine, you’ll be quick to note the amount of impassioned-yet-opposing viewpoints firing off by the hour. No matter where you stand, 2020 has not been what we would consider to be “normal.”

Folks with an existing substance use or other mental health disorder are especially at risk during this time. When you combine mental health problems–driven by isolation–with the current need for social distance, the results can be overwhelming for many of our community’s most vulnerable.

>As professionals we are all too familiar with the premise: “I stopped spending time around the positive influences in my life, and things got worse for me.”

Stress related to COVID-19 may also bring about anxiety or depression related problems for folks who have not typically struggled with those issues. With all of that in mind, I wanted to take a minute to highlight some strategies to improve emotional wellbeing, at home and within our community.

**Allow yourself to feel your emotions — without judgment.**

It’s an old saying, and it’s truer now than ever–“it’s okay to feel your feelings.” Most of us have had to make some dramatic changes to our routines, and it can be tempting to ignore or dismiss emotional discomfort in the name of “business as usual.” Many may feel uncomfortable even admitting there is a problem, stigmatize stress as weakness, or simply dismiss unwanted emotions as false. Unfortunately, these sort of coping strategies often just increase what we’re trying to avoid in the first place.

So what can you do? Set aside time to “check in” with yourself – how are you feeling right now? If something is wrong, what is causing it? Allow yourself to explore your thoughts and concerns without self-judgment.

Maybe you haven’t noticed an increase in emotional distress, but if you’ve experienced a disruption in your routine, some other things to consider: Are you sleeping restfully through the night? Are you experiencing changes in appetite? Have you stopped engaging in typical hobbies?

If any of this sounds like you, it may be time to **reach out if you need help.**

**Distance does not have to equal isolation.**

Many are tempted to isolate in times of uncertainty, but avoiding this is key to emotional wellness. It’s okay to feel your feelings, but as we’ve said on this blog before, it’s also okay to not be okay. If you are struggling with any mental health related problem, we want you to know that help is available.

The Counseling Center offers individual and group counseling for folks managing mental health problems at multiple levels of care within our community. If you are interested in speaking with a licensed clinician, call us at 740-354-6685 and schedule an appointment. We will happily work to meet your scheduling needs, assist with transportation, or connect remotely through telehealth services.

Our Crisis Hotline at 740-354-1010 is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year, staffed by trained folks who are ready to listen. No strings attached, and completely anonymous. Call at any time–we would love to hear from you.

Finally, in partnership with the Adams-Scioto-Lawrence County ADAMHS Board, our Crisis Center is available for individuals experiencing a substance abuse or other mental health related crisis, and in need of immediate access to care. Speak with your counselor or other healthcare professional if you believe this is a service that would benefit you.

Maybe you’ve done some of, all of, or your own version of the above, but still feel like something is missing. Or maybe you have found that you are functioning well despite current circumstances–which is great! If that is the case, now is an important time to be of service to others.

**Get involved**
One of the best ways to do that is to simply become active in your community–and a beautiful thing about ours is the sheer amount of opportunities to plug in. Check out The Counseling Center’s Facebook page for regularly updated information on volunteer, fundraising, or other opportunities to participate.

For example:
Our recent Feed Your Neighbor Friday campaign.
Our partners in the Friends of Portsmouth organization hosting socially distanced cleanup and other beautification projects around the city.
Free, family-friendly Outdoor Movie nights.

**To summarize**
Recent circumstances are counterintuitive to how we are used to caring for our emotional, social, and mental wellness. Hopefully this post has served to share just a few of the ways we at The Counseling Center are here to help with the challenges facing our community.

I encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram as we continue to share our thoughts and practices in the business of Mental Healthcare. If you or someone you love is in need of behavioral treatment of any kind–reach us at 740.354.6685 or 24/7 on the Crisis Hotline 740.354.1010.

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The Counseling Center is the region’s leader in behavioral healthcare. Our licensed behavioral and primary healthcare providers employ advanced treatments to help our patients achieve long-term mental and physical health goals. We are leading the way in shaping positive outcomes for mental health, substance use disorder, physical health, and recovery housing.

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The Crisis Center Hotline is available 24/7/365.