Published in: Banks | March 19, 2020

Mental Health Relief and the Coronavirus

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If you're worried about your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, check out these resources.  

COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, leading to draconian measures to prevent its spread. These include social distancing -- staying at home and limiting contact with others. Unfortunately, the closure of businesses to help limit the spread of the virus also means the economic impact is substantial, and many people face a reduction or loss of income.  

All these factors, naturally, can create substantial stress and anxiety and affect mental health. And when you're worried about your health, your financial situation, or the world as a whole, this can also create conditions that are very difficult for people in recovery. 

Getting help with mental health or addiction may seem especially difficult when so much of the world is shut down, or if your income has been cut by coronavirus-related closures. However, there are resources available online and in person to help you get the support you need. We've compiled a list of these resources to help you find assistance no matter where you are. 

A stressed young woman looking out the window with her head resting on her crossed arms.

Image source: Getty Images

Mental health and addiction services 

If you're feeling depressed, anxious, or otherwise worried about your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, or if you are in recovery or struggling with addiction, these resources can help. 

Online and phone resources

If you need immediate mental health assistance or want help without leaving home, try these:

  • The Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990: Operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for immediate crisis counseling for those experiencing stress from any kind of disaster. Spanish speakers can get help at the same phone number by pressing 2, while those who are hard of hearing can text TalkWithUs to 66746. 
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255: If you are in emotional distress or experiencing a suicidal crisis, counselors are standing by to talk with you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 800-662-HELP: This hotline is a confidential treatment referral routing service available 24/7. It provides support for people with mental health issues and those struggling from a substance use disorder. You can call if you need help for yourself or are concerned about a family member. 
  • The National Alliance on Mental Health HelpLine at 800-950-6264: Help is available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Many licensed clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are providing phone and video appointments during the coronavirus crisis for patients who want to remain in their homes to practical social distancing. If you have a provider, contact them to find out if they will offer you a telehealth appointment. You can also reach out to your insurer to find in-network counselors in your area.  

In addition, you can find free online support groups at SupportGroupsCentral, thetribe, or supportgroups.com.

National programs

There are several associations that offer low-cost mental healthcare solutions regardless of insurance status. Options include:

  • The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics: You can visit its website to find a clinic. There are approximately 1,400 free and charitable clinics across the country that provide assistance to the underserved. The NAFC also has information on the coronavirus and says it is monitoring the developing situation. 
  • The National Mental Health Consumer's Self-Help Clearinghouse: This nationwide directory provides information on consumer-driven mental health services, including drop-in centers. You can use its search function to find clubhouses, crisis prevention services, and other resources in your area.  
  • HRSA Data Warehouse: This website helps you find federally funded health centers that provide care even if you do not have insurance. Some centers provide mental health services in addition to other medical services. 
  • Alcoholics Anonymous: AA provides support if you have a drinking problem. You can visit the Alcoholics Anonymous website to find a group near you. 
  • Narcotics Anonymous: Narcotics Anonymous offers support to people living with drug addiction. You can find events in your area by searching on the NA website. 

State-based programs

State governments and local nonprofits may also offer mental health assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, in New York City, the nonprofit Fountain House is developing a virtual support community in response to COVID-19. 

You can check your local Department of Health and Human Services website to find out about support programs and services where you live. 

School- and employment-based assistance

If you work for an employer with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), that program may enable you to connect with mental health counselors at no cost. Often, a consultation with a mental health professional can happen over the telephone. 

School counselors can also provide support to young people. The American School Counselor Association has made resources available, including a guide to help parents talk with their children about the coronavirus. 

How to protect your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

During stressful times, it's important to get the help you need if you're dealing with mental health or addiction issues. You should also aim to stay connected to loved ones as much as possible through telephone and video chat contact, and take breaks from the news if stories about COVID-19 are increasing your stress or anxiety. 

Building an emergency fund in a high-yield savings account can also help alleviate financial anxiety, as can creating a plan to make smart financial decisions as you cope with the effects of the coronavirus.

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