Monitoring Mental Health During COVID-19

April 02, 2020 | United Way Team

Supporting your mental health while navigating change can be challenging. Here are some tips to take care of yourself during the COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s no secret our community is working to minimize the scale and spread of COVID-19 in East Central Iowa. Because of this, many Annual Report Icons_Mental Healthpeople are facing unique work situations, as well as changes to daily life that are unfamiliar. United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) sat down with Emily Blomme, CEO of Foundation 2— one of our funded partners— to discuss mental health during this pandemic and ways to stay as functional as possible during these unprecedented times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a source of stress and anxiety for many. Since March 1, 211, the state information and referral line, has received almost 860 calls about COVID-19 in UWECI’s five-county service area. Blomme explained Foundation 2 has seen a rise in crisis calls, chats and texts from people for many different reasons, ranging from feeling trapped and bored to being nervous about economic fallout, job loss, and the health of family members. All of these feelings, Blomme stresses, are normal to be feeling during this time.

“Everyone is feeling something some level of stress and uncertainty, no matter who you are,” Blomme said. “This [situation] is something that none of us have experienced before.”

While everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, taking care of your mental health is essential for wellbeing. Here are some ways to help navigate this new change:

  1. Spend time outside. Social distancing doesn’t mean being confined to your house, Blomme said. “Spending time outside when the sun is shining can provide relief and help clear your mind.” Take a walk in your neighborhood or on a trail or sit on a porch to give yourself a break from daily activities.
  2. Learn from previous experiences. “Think back to a difficult time in your life and remember what you did to get through that time,” Blomme suggests. Then, use what you’ve overcome as a tool. “It’s helpful to look back to past experiences to see how we can get through current challenges,” Blomme added.
  3. Stay socially connected. It can be difficult to connect with others due to social distancing, but technology can help with that. Check in with coworkers and people you’re used to seeing on a regular basis to see how they’re doing. “It’s important to show empathy for one another,” Blomme said. Additionally, Blomme suggests getting creative to connect through technology. Virtual watch parties, happy hours, and concerts are popping up on social channels. Trying something new can be a helpful and exciting way to stay connected to important people in your life.
  4. Consume reputable information. There’s such a thing as information overload, especially when it comes to COVID-19. Blomme recommends checking reputable sources twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. “Iowa has several sources that have current COVID-19 information, such as the Iowa Department of Public Health and the COVID-19 in Iowa website,” Blomme said. In addition to sticking with reliable sources, Blomme suggests limiting the amount of time you spend scrolling on social media, as this can increase worries and stress.
  5. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help. It is normal to feel nervous during times of public crisis. 211 is a statewide resource available for accurate and updated information about COVID-19. More information on how to contact 211 can be found here. If you’re looking for mental health support or feeling like you’re in crisis, reach out to Foundation 2’s crisis line at (319) 362-2174 or Your Life Iowa, the statewide crisis line, at (855) 581-8111.

    As our community continues to navigate this pandemic over the next couple months, UWECI will continue to take any necessary steps to ensure the health and well-being of our community. We are committed to supporting our community and standing united for those who need us most. Stay in touch with us through our blog for future COVID-19 updates.