Minding your mental health during a pandemic

Go for a run, a bike ride or play golf or a game of volleyball—then wash your hands. Those are just some of the ways to practice social distancing while staying healthy and passing the time during the coronavirus pandemic. And during this time, when many shelves are empty, schools are closed and some businesses too, officials say it's important not to not only to focus on physical wellness but also mental health.

"Help is available," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "You may just not be getting it in the way you're used to getting it." 

The Nassau County Departments of Social Services, Mental Health and Substance Abuse are fully open during this time but instead of meeting in person, in many cases professionals are using phone calls or online video conferencing for counseling.

Experts share some coping tips: 

Omayra Perez of the Department of Human Services recommended that you try to strike a balance.

"Make sure you're keeping yourself well informed but not obsessing over it," Perez said. "If you have a list of to-do things do that, read books, binge on movies, find a new normal." 

Stress and a lack of routine can trigger someone dealing with underlying psychological or substance abuse disorders, according to Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of Family and Children's Association.

"The memes all over social media suggesting the best way to a quarantine crisis is to stock up on wine and vodka is not a good strategy for anybody," Reynolds said. 

Officials want people to know help is available.

The mobile crisis team can be reached 24 hours a day in Nassau County at 516-227-TALK.

Suffolk County residents can call 631-952-3333

"It looks like the world is closed but those on the front lines haven't closed," Reynolds said. "We're just doing business in a different way." 

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text 741-741.

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