Mental Health Resources in the Age of COVID
By Emily Fitts
A guide to managing stress and anxiety during the pandemic, and a list of free mental health resources to help
If you are having trouble coping right now, you are not alone. Many people are dealing with added stress, fear, and uncertainty due to COVID-19 and the disruption it has caused to our lives.
In this unprecedented time, it is important to remember:
- Be kind to yourself and others.
- It helps to stay virtually connected with family, friends, and members of your community. It’s also okay to disconnect if you’re feeling overwhelmed by news or communications.
- There is no right or wrong way to feel. Rather than judging your emotions or comparing yourself to others, try to learn what strategies help you cope the best.
- Taking care of your physical health and diabetes, especially by eating healthy, staying active, and getting enough sleep, will help your emotional and mental health as well.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sherri Nelson explains one of the benefits of staying virtually connected to friends, family, and your community: “Sometimes it can help to ‘reality test’ your concerns with others. You may find that you are feeling more distressed and think you are not coping well. Then you talk to your friend, and you find that they too have sleepless nights or days that are harder than usual for them. It can be reassuring to know that other people are dealing with the same concerns as you.”
Mental health resources are becoming more widely available during the pandemic – companies are providing free access to their programs, health plans are expanding coverage of care, and non-profit organizations are offering emergency help.
- Omada Health is offering its Behavioral Health program to employers and health plans for free for the next six months. If you are currently enrolled in the Omada Health diabetes, prediabetes, or hypertension programs, you can access their Omada for Behavioral Health program for free.
- Members of Kaiser Permanente will have free access to Livongo for Behavioral Health by myStrength.
Here are some of our favorite free mental health resources for you to check out:
If you are feeling more anxious than usual or are having trouble managing stress, try a meditation app.
- Calm, a sleep, meditation, and relaxation app, has made many of its resources free for anyone to use.
- Headspace, another guided meditation app, is providing meditations, sleep, and movement exercises free in their app in the “Weathering the storm” category. Additionally, Headspace Plus is free to health care professionals and educators.
If you are experiencing thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that are interfering with your daily functioning or causing significant emotional distress, consider seeking professional help in the form of therapy or counseling.
- Telehealth coverage has greatly expanded during the pandemic, and many insurers have increased their mental health benefits and decreased or eliminated co-pays for COVID-19 treatment. To get information on what your health insurance (private or public) covers or is offering for free, call the number on your health plan membership card.
- Project Parachute is providing free teletherapy for health care professionals who are on the COVID-19 frontlines in 37 states.
If you want additional resources on mental health during the pandemic, there are several online articles that share tips for managing stress and practicing self-care.
- CDC’s website on stress and coping during the pandemic.
- CDC’s website on self-care while coping with a disaster or traumatic event.
- Shine and Mental Health America’s “Coronavirus Anxiety Toolkit.”
- Nicole Johnson’s ten tips to manage your stress during the pandemic.
- Ask your primary care doctor, endocrinologist, or health clinic if there are any mental health resources they can refer you to.
- Use ADA’s directory of health care professionals trained to meet the mental health needs of people with diabetes. See our article here for more information.
- If you’re a college student, contact the Counseling Center or Student Affairs Office to inquire about mental health resources your college is providing to students during COVID-19. College Diabetes Network also has great resources for people with type 1 diabetes.
- Check out Nextdoor – they’ve created a Help Map where you can sign up to help or receive help from neighbors, including phone or video check-ins, prescription pickup, grocery shopping, dog walking, and more.
- Connect with us on social media!
Please note, if you (or someone you love) are in an emergency situation and need immediate help, call 911 or one of the many free hotlines and text services open 24/7.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- National Alliance on Mental Illness’s (NAMI) National Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233