Resources to Help Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Other Mental Health Concerns During COVID-19

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The unexpected challenges brought on by a global pandemic cause not only fear of contracting the Coronavirus, but also stress and anxiety. Increased caretaking responsibilities as schools closed, the economic impact of a reduced workforce, the confinement of social-distancing, and the uncertainty of not knowing when life will return to normal, create the perfect storm for mental health challenges. During Mental Health Awareness Month, AHCCCS reminds members that mental health resources are available and mental health services covered.

Stress and anxiety can be different for different people and can include difficulty sleeping or concentrating, changes in eating patterns, or increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other substances. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares ways to deal with stress and anxiety so members can take care of themselves and loved ones during the pandemic.

Six Ways to Cope With Stress & Help Others Who Are

  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  2. Take care of your body.
    1. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
    2. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
    3. Exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
    4. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  3. Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy.
  4. Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you feel.
  5. Get the health care you need. Contact your health care provider to discuss consulting options during the pandemic such as telehealth.
  6. Check on your neighbors who live alone; those living in isolation are at greater risk for depression and suicidal thoughts. 

Continuing mental health treatment during this time is extremely important, as symptoms can increase during a crisis. Virtual group or individual therapy and phone consultations are some of the ways health care providers are serving those in need. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety or depression, get help. 

For more resources on mental health services for AHCCCS members, see the Office of Individual and Family Affairs web page.

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On International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, Remind Survivors of Available Resources

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, Saturday, November 23, is an occasion for survivors to join together for healing and support through their shared experience. Originally designated in 1999, the weekend before Thanksgiving is always recognized as Survivor Day since the holidays can be a difficult time of remembrance for those who have lost loved ones to suicide. 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) coordinates over 300 events in the United States and worldwide, recognizing that this issue affects people from all walks of life. This year two events will be held in Arizona–in Tempe and Sierra Vista. While each event is different, all will feature a short AFSP documentary that shows families navigating the loss of a parent, child, sibling, or friend, in all different stages of grief. Regardless of one’s place in healing, Survivor Day aims to connect people to a network of communities that understand grief through shared experiences.

This year’s documentary is titled Pathways to Healing: Hope after Suicide Loss, and follows a community’s healing journey following the loss of a son, brother, and friend: Chris Taddeo. Watch the trailer here

On Survivor Day, take time to recognize your own strength and the strength of those around you. Recognize those that have been in ultimate despair and managed to carry on; recognize those that are finding their own path to their new normal. If you need help, seek it. If you want to talk about your loss, talk about it freely. 

Register to attend an event or see past documentaries

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American Indians are more susceptible to suicide than national average

American Indians have a higher risk of dying by suicide. Arizona is home to 22 tribal nations. Suicide is preventable.

Suicide is preventable. Those American Indians considering dying by suicide may demonstrate one of the following behaviors:

  • An increase in substance use
  • A change in sleeping pattern
  • Giving away possessions, including pets
  • Depression and withdrawal from social obligations
  • Discussing dying by suicide

If someone in your life is dealing with loss, or exhibiting one of the symptoms above, there are resources available.  We can all work to prevent suicide.

What you can do:

  • Know the cultural risk factors for suicide among American Indians, and how to refer a person to care.
  •  Consider making a safety plan for if/when you feel depressed or suicidal. A protective factor for suicide includes having a strong support network. Knowing who to call when you feel depressed or suicidal can help in crisis.
  • Practice active listening; listening to someone who is depressed or having suicidal thoughts, without offering advice or judgment, is courageous.
  • Advocate for the importance of suicide surveillance systems, including building relationships with respected community members.
  • Speak with tribal councils, school boards, and other community leaders about the need for suicide prevention resources.
  • If someone in your life is considering dying by suicide, do not leave this person alone. Remove any firearms or unnecessary prescription medications from the home. When in doubt, call 9-11.

If someone in your life is considering dying by suicide, do not leave this person alone. Remove any firearms or unnecessary prescription medications from the home. When in doubt, call 9-11.

For additional resources, visit AHCCCS.

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