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Mental Health Awareness Month Amidst COVID-19

I am an employee of Common Ground who is working from home and isolating at home due to the current Covid-19 crisis. With the month of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, self-care tips and access to resources couldn’t be more important during these uncertain times.

As I am writing this, I have been in isolation for 52 days, far longer than I thought this would last. Like so many others, I simply did not understand how vastly and deeply this virus would change our lives.

As a Supervisor and Licensed Professional Counselor, I am accustomed to helping people work through crisis toward hope and I have experienced that this novel crisis has been more challenging to figure out how to cope and where to look for hope. I am not an expert here to suggest to anyone how to navigate this “new normal” and I am not sure how anyone could claim to be an expert in doing something that we have never had to do in our life time. I am writing to share my experience and hope that you will find something useful for your journey through this adventure.

I have experienced the uncertainty, anxiety, and loneliness of trying to follow the Stay at Home and Social Distancing recommendations and occasionally found myself floundering. I have had to admit that I am unsure, confused, and frightened and found some relief in embracing that I can only control what I can control for myself. I have found that I need to set boundaries around how much negativity I expose myself to everyday through limiting negative news and social media. I need to set small routines and continually refocus myself as to what is the next right thing to do. I need to remind myself that social isolation does not have to be the same as emotional isolation. I reach out to others often by phone or online and find that even when I take a walk, I make a point to not look at the ground as I pass someone else in the street, but I make eye contact, smile at them and say something that creates a connectedness. I remind myself that this is not just about me, but about we and that the sacrifices we are making are not only the single most important thing that we can do for ourselves and each other but demonstrate a significant and quiet grace in how we are reorganizing our humanity.

The few times that I have felt significantly overwhelmed, I have done the same thing that I hope you will do, I have reached out to the staff and my family at Common Ground. Someone is available to talk to you at any time of the day and they do care about you. They can collaborate with you to create plans to support your mental wellness, substance use and have an excellent team ready to support homeless and runaway youth. The Crisis Line will work with you by phone, text or chat. The Victim’s Assistance staff is still working and will support you if you feel you need their help now. Please stay safe and focus on doing the next right thing for yourself. If that next right thing is to seek help, please know that you are very welcomed to reach out to Common Ground.