Staying Mentally Healthy During Isolation

The COVID-19 virus has many in Arizona and around the world separating themselves from community like they haven’t before. Social distancing is recommended, including keeping at least 3 feet between you and anyone else in a public space. While staying at home or keeping a safe distance between others is the best advice, it may be hard on our emotional health.
While much of what is happening may leave you feeling anxious or like you do not have control, there are steps you can take to feel empowered and mentally healthy. We are not helpless: we can choose our response.
1. Make a list of what is in your control, and what isn’t. Focus on what you can control, like being diligent about hand washing, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and social distancing.
2. Think about what makes you feel safe. How can you feel safe at home? Maybe it is reading on the couch under a weighted blanket, or holding a pet. Perhaps it is watching a funny movie or playing a game online. Take steps to do the tasks now that give you a sense of security.
3. Get fresh air. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can’t take a long walk. There is a lot of research to show fresh air, sunshine and Vitamin D will help boost your mood. Physical health also helps mental health.
4. Try to only think about today. Worrying about tomorrow or the distant future can be daunting. Instead, focus on what is before you. Think of your senses. What is blooming outside in your neighborhood? Can you hear the birds singing from your kitchen? Are there clouds in the sky? Engage in mindfulness and meditation if you have moments when things feel out of control.
5. Connect with others. Call your family. Write old fashioned pen pal letters to friends. Join a chat group online. There are ways to connect without being in the same room. Talking with others who we trust about how we are feeling is important to our mental health. Talking with your behavioral health provider may be a good idea too.
If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.


Speaking with Students/Youth About COVID-19: What to Ask

Youth may be feeling heightened anxiety about COVID-19 and being out of school. Routines have changed and they may feel unsettled. When speaking to a student or child about what’s happening, a few suggestions:

1. How are they are feeling?
2. How are they are sleeping?
3. Are they getting enough to eat?
4. Are they feeling anger?
5. Do they feel safe?

Reassure them that feeling scared, anxious, or angry is okay and normal. Give them suggestions for things they can do to feel more in control, like practicing breathing exercises, going for a bike ride, reading a book, playing with a pet.

If you are worried the student is experiencing suicidal thoughts, ask if there is someone else in the home. Make sure there is someone with the child. If the child is alone, keep them on the phone while you contact a parent or guardian. Local crisis teams can be reached at: 1-800-631-1314. This is a free service and they will be able to provide advice on appropriate next steps.

If the child isn’t getting enough to eat, or you are worried about the family’s food security, contact the Arizona Food Bank Network. Their website has the ability to enter a zip code and find the closest food bank or pantry.  1-800-445-1914

Also, many schools are providing free breakfast and lunch for students while schools are closed. More information on participating locations can be found here:

Other resources:

• Teen LifeLine: 602-248-8336
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
• Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
• Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ youth: 1-866-488-7386
• Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
• WeRNative (for Native Americans) Chat:


Medicaid Options Available to American Indian/Alaska Native Members

The unique status of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes as independent tribal nations give AI/AN AHCCCS members access to multiple programs, including: the American Indian Health Program (AIHP), the American Indian Medical Home (AIMH) Program, Tribal Arizona Long Term Care System (Tribal ALTCS), and the Tribal Regional Behavioral Health Authorities (TRBHAs). 

Federal Medicaid law requires that AI/AN members have the “freedom of choice” to enroll in either managed care health plans or a Fee-For- Service (FFS) health plan. The American Indian Health Program (AIHP) is a statewide, integrated program that covers physical, behavioral, and Children’s Rehabilitation Services, serving more than 117,000 AI/AN members as of October 2019. Those who choose AIHP may see any AHCCCS registered provider that serves FFS members. Additionally, AI/AN members have the choice to switch between managed care and FFS at any time. 

The American Indian Medical Home (AIMH) Program is a care management model that puts AHCCCS members enrolled in the American Indian Health Program at the forefront of care. The AIMH Program supports qualified Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal 638 facilities in the provision of Primary Care Case Management, diabetes education, and care coordination for AIHP enrolled members. By enhancing  case management and care coordination, and providing 24 hour access to a care team, the AIMH program aims to help address health disparities between AI/AN and other populations in Arizona. Currently, there are six AIMHs throughout the state, including: Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility, Phoenix Indian Medical Center, Whiteriver Indian Hospital, Winslow Indian Health Care Center, San Carlos Apache Healthcare, and Fort Yuma Indian Health Center. To date, nearly one in five AIHP members are enrolled in an AIMH. The AIMH Program is the first of its kind in the nation, created through a robust partnership between AHCCCS, IHS and tribal leadership.

The Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) is an integrated health plan for people who are elderly and/or physically disabled who require an institutional level of care. Tribal ALTCS provides the same medicaid services as ALTCS, but specifically to AI/AN populations. In order to deliver care through Tribal ALTCS, AHCCCS works in partnership with seven tribes and one urban American Indian Health Center. This partnership is formed by an Intergovernmental Agreement between AHCCCS and some tribal nations to provide long term care case management services. Payment for Long Term Care Services are paid at the Fee for Service (FFS) rate and reimbursed through AHCCCS FFS System.

Tribal Regional Behavioral Health Authorities (TRBHAs) are Tribal entities that have an Intergovernmental Agreement with AHCCCS Administration for the provision of behavioral health services to AI/AN members. There are five TRBHAs across the state that serve members according to tribal affiliation and geographic location: Colorado River Indian Tribe, Gila River, Navajo, Pascua Yaqui, and White Mountain Apache. Approximately 64,000 AHCCCS members are currently enrolled with a TRBHA. While TRBHAs are responsible for coordinating care for the enrolled members, members may access any AHCCCS registered provider for behavioral health care and are eligible for all AHCCCS covered behavioral health services. 

The robust services available to AI/AN members are designed to address health disparities across tribal nations and boost positive health outcomes, while respecting tribal sovereignty. AHCCCS coordinates closely with the tribal nations on administering AI/AN specific programs.