Coronavirus pandemic and mental health


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – If you’re feeling fear or anxiety in the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone.

“You don’t have to suffer in silence that there are resources out there and that if you are struggling with your mental health right now, that is okay. That is you know kind of normal given everything that is going on,” Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network Southeast Regional Director Rachel Gearinger said.
Gearinger said that the conversations of people using the keyword “TN” for Tennesseans in the Crisis Text Line is up 63 percent in March compared to the same time last year.
“They’re also showing that in these conversations that more people are using terms like ‘virus’ and ‘pandemic’ and things like that. So we do know that there is a lot of anxiety and difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gearinger said.
The situation might also be affecting substance use.
Focus Treatment Centers Counselor Amy Speek said they’re seeing more people struggle.
“We’re in a time of really increased stress. So people are, are looking for comfort. They’re looking for ways to not feel,” Speek said.
Helen Ross McNabb Center Greater Chattanooga Senior Director Gayle Lodato said in situations like the coronavirus pandemic mental health can be impacted whether or not there is a history of mental health concerns.
“Not only the increased anxiety and feeling alone, but also, you know, we’re being asked to socially isolate and to stay home, shelter in place. That can be very isolative. So, depression can come from that in addition to increase of substance use.”
Lodato said to help lower anxiety focus on self care like exercising and getting enough sleep.
Staying connected is also important.
Since many people can’t meet in person, there are mental health services that are being offered online and through the phone.
Focus Treatment Centers is offering virtual treatment for substance use.
AA meetings are being held online.
There is a Zoom meeting that is open 24/7.
For clients who do not have computer access, this meeting occurs every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. ET by phone, 978-990-5000. The pin is 426546.
Here are some numbers to contact if you need help (Gearinger said that you don’t necessarily have to be having suicidal thoughts to access these resources. She said you can also contact them if you’re struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic):
  • Tennessee Crisis Help Line: call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471)
  • Crisis Text Line: text TN to 741741
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


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