LIMA — Local mental health officials say it is important to take care of your mental and physical health during the uncertain times of the coronavirus.
Judy Lester, the treatment director at Specialized Alternative for Families and Youth Behavioral Health Services in Lima, said the center provides counseling services for youth, families and individuals and is known for trauma treatment.
“We are all being driven by our amygdala — that is the fight, flight or freeze center of the brain. Its job is to watch out for the next sad, bad and confusing thing and prepare for it,” Lester said.
Donna Konst, Pathways Counseling Center executive director, said the counseling center is trying to help people through some uncertain times.
“This is unprecedented times, and you can’t go anywhere where someone isn’t talking about it. It has affected everyone’s lives and routines,” Konst said.
Susan Burchfield, a licensed professional clinical counselor with Van Wert Counseling, said the counseling center offers Skype, Facetime and phone counseling sessions for those who do not prefer to do in-person counseling. Pathways also offers those services.
“Stress increases our immune system, so we do need to make sure we are using healthy and calming techniques,” Burchfield said. An example is to exhale double the count of the inhale. Meditating, yoga and diaphragm breathing can also be important.
Lester said when there are so many updates with the coronavirus coming quickly, people are trying to figure out how to stay safe.
She advised taking breaks from social media. Those who have children in their household should limit the amount of social media to less than a couple of hours a day.
“Looking for more information about coronavirus could heighten your anxiety. So instead you should concentrate on the things in your life you do have control over,” Lester said.
She said it is a great opportunity for families to spend time together reading books, taking walks, put on music and dancing and attend to relationships they have. She said a healthy way to use social media is to do a video call with loved ones.
Other tips while being at home to avoid the virus are to clean, open windows and let in sunshine.
“It is important to remain calm because we are getting direction from the government and people in our community, and we need to pay attention to that,” Lester said. “When we are carried away by the fight, flight and freeze moment, we won’t hear information well.”
Nutrition also is imperative by not giving in to the stress eating urge of high calorie and sugary foods and caffeine. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule also is important, Burchfield said.
“If we are producing adrenaline, which is what happens when we are stressed, we are not as able to produce the antibodies we need to fight off any kind of infections,” Burchfield said.
Pathways Counseling Center in Ottawa has daily Podcasts on its website, pathwaysputnam.org, of counselors discussing how people can take care of themselves mentally and physically.
Konst said stress is coming from people wondering when the end game of coronavirus will be and when things will get back to normal.
“There will be a time when everyone will have enough, and it may be creating some new normal,” Konst said.
She said the good thing is the virus is causing people to reconnect via phone and writing letters.
“We all need a sense of hope and that everything will be okay at the end of the day,” Konst said. “By helping others, it elevates people’s moods.”
She encouraged people to serve others to boost their mental health by donating food and volunteering to get their minds off their worries.
The Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin Counties is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 developments as well as following the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services guidelines and orders.
People who experience feelings of anxiety, depression, being overwhelmed or any other strong emotions for which you need support, call the 24/7 HOPEline at 1-800-567-HOPE (4673). People can also text 741 741.
Another emotional support line is the NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI (6264) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for mental health resources.
March is also Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Ten percent of Ohio’s adults are at risk for having a gambling issue, and more than 90,000 Ohioans could currently be problem gamblers according to a 2017 Ohio survey. There are worries that the extra time and stress at home could lead to online gambling addictions.
In Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin counties, there are miore than 9,000 people at a low risk of having an issue; nearly 4,000 have a moderate risk, and there are more than 500 who may be problem gamblers.
Ohio For Responsible Gambling was formed to help Ohio communities reduce problem gambling and build awareness of resources available for prevention and treatment of a gambling disorder. Every Ohioan can learn more. The Before You Bet campaign (beforeyoubet.org) offers free quizzes, community toolkits and helpful guides. The Change The Game program (changethegameohio.org) has everything parents and care providers need to know to unlock the reality of youth gambling.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.