GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and Public Health Director Karin Carroll wish to share tips and resources with residents to help promote mental health and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last few months have been a stressful and challenging time for many of us, and it’s important to know what resources are available for residents to get the help they or a loved one might need,” Carroll said. “We hope you’ll find these tips and resources helpful, and remind you that you’re not alone. It’s vital for everyone to practice healthy habits and prioritize mental health as we all continue to navigate through this unique and difficult time.”
The Gloucester Health Department has partnered with Children’s Friend and Family Services, a division of the Justice Resource Institute, to provide a dedicated representative for community members to contact for help when seeking mental health care. Assistance is free and available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 781-540-3329.
The program is open to anyone from Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Essex, Ipswich, Beverly or Danvers seeking support navigating the mental health system. More information about the program can be found here.
During this stressful time, people may notice signs of increased stress and/or anxiety in themselves or others. Examples of this, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
The Gloucester Health Department wishes to share the following tips for increasing resiliency from the American Psychological Association:
- Focus on developing social connections big or small while respecting social distance guidance.
- Prioritize relationships with those who validate your feelings and help support you through difficult times.
- Reorient and develop a sense of purpose by helping others.
- Set and work towards personal goals.
- Be proactive and identify opportunities for self-discovery, such as acknlowedgling your strengths.
- Becoming adaptive and psychologically flexible.
- Avoid outlets that only mask pain, such as alcohol, drugs or other substances.
- Take care of your body and practice mindfulness activities, such as journaling and meditation.
- Focus on hope, accept change and view past experiences as learning opportunities.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness Massachusetts (NAMI) is also offering online and call-in options for peer, family and clinical support accessible during the ongoing public health crisis.
“Supporting the mental health needs of Gloucester residents is and will always be a top priority for us, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Romeo Theken. “We will continue to share and develop these vital tips and resources in order to meet the needs of our residents during these uncertain times. Thank you to everyone who has helped put these resources and guides together; this important work makes a significant difference in the lives of our residents.”
Additional tips are also available for managing stress and taking care of one’s mental health during the ongoing pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Be mindful of how much news you are consuming about the pandemic, and take breaks. This includes taking social media breaks.
- Eat healthy and well balanced meals.
- Exercise frequently.
- Try to get enough sleep each night.
- Do activities you enjoy.
- Talk to family and friends about your feelings and thoughts, while respecting social distancing guidance.
- If stress becomes a barrier to your daily activities for multiple days in a row, contact your healthcare provider.
Additional information from the CDC can be found here.