During this medical crisis, many of us are focused on everyone’s physical health and well being. Please remember that people with mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression are also at risk during this crisis.
Those with Mental Health concerns may fall between the cracks. Even if their issues are controlled by medications, the stress and isolation of this time can aggravate their symptoms. Feeling there is no one to reach out to, can cause even greater loneliness and negative thoughts.
How can you help? Reach out. Send an email or text. Make a phone call. Leave some food, or flowers on their doorstep. Just to remind them there is someone out there who cares .
If you reach out, and they do not reach back, try again after a day or so. A simple thinking of you text will do well. Let them know you are there for them. Do you need to actively mention their issues? No. A simple “How are you doing today” goes a long way.
There are several areas online that they can reach out to for support. A great app is Doctors on Demand. It can be download from Apple Store or Google play onto phone, tablet or laptop. Once installed, and you sign in, you can reach out to get an video chat with a medical doctor or mental health specialist, often with a wait of just a few minutes.
When talking, sometimes you need to just listen. Remember, unless you are on a video chat, they cannot see non verbal cues, such as a smile or nod. Use verbal signs you are listening, and understand.
If they ask how you are, do not lie and say you are fine if you are not. It this time has you a bit down, and stressed, say so. Do not dwell on YOUR problems, but it may be good for them to know they are not alone in feeling scared. This is called Self-disclosure. Used well, it can be helpful.
If you ask if there is anything you can do, mean it. Be specific. Ask if they need groceries, or to have meds picked up. You can leave them at their front door And wave through the window
Most importantly, DO NOT JUDGE!! They cannot just snap out of it. You would not tell someone with a medical illness to snap out of it!!
In emails, send a joke, or funny video or cartoon. It will be appreciated.
This site, Erika’s Lighthouse, can be helpful in helping someone you love with depression.
Marie McMullen was born in Batavia, NY. She then moved to Rochester NY where she attended Nazareth College and received her degree in Social Work. She spent most of her career working with people with disabilities.