The COVID-19 pandemic has doubled the number of calls to a Chicago nonprofit organization to 300 a week from people seeking help with mental health crises.
And the consequences of the pandemic blockade will require a long-term search for souls. This recognition bases May as a month of mental health awareness, and its timeliness is necessary.
“We’re facing long-term chronic stress,” said Ben Frank, head of welfare at the Chicago National Mental Illness Alliance, which operates a helpline to help people get help, find a provider. medical services and find out insurance coverage.
“Don’t end a period of time like this without asking yourself,‘ What does it mean to get back to normal? “We all need support in the midst of that,” Frank said.
Liza Suarez. Jenny Fontaine / University of Illinois-Chicago
So how can we recognize and treat our emotions? What do we call what we feel? And, since mental health providers are overwhelmed with people seeking help even if COVID restrictions are eased, how can we be patient when it comes to finding out about these things?
Stress is one of the biggest culprits. Liza Suárez, co-director of the Urban Youth Trauma Center, director of the Pediatric Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic and associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Illinois, said Liza Suárez needs physical and emotional pressure to cope. resources due to everyday problems. Chicago.
“Stress can affect our body, mood and behavior,” Suarez said. “It can take the form of muscle tension, fatigue, sleep problems, restlessness, irritability and irritability, feeling overwhelmed. It can cause us excessive or insufficient consumption or misuse of substances. Maybe we will try to keep the others at bay.
Anxiety can appear as intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations to the point that it can interfere with work, school, and relationships. Signs of persistent anxiety include problems concentrating; feeling nervous, restless, or tense and feeling imminent danger or panic.
Depression takes on another layer of feelings, marked by lingering sadness and a loss of interest in the things you once enjoyed. You may feel guilty, have no value, slow down, or have trouble concentrating. Depression can also involve noticeable weight gain or loss.
What to do?
One of the key elements to regaining your true self is finding the balance between work, family, rest and fun, Suarez said.
“We have to find joy somewhere,” he said. “It will make us more miserable to focus on things we can’t control. A lot of things are unfair and stressful. Therefore, defending and joining other people to make a change is also important. “
Frank said gaining a sense of renewal outside of finding a professional therapist can involve meditation, physical movement, engaging in meaningful work or projects, or being open to expressions of concern from family and friends.
Ben Frank, head of welfare at the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Chicago. NAMI Chicago
Technology can help. Dr. Jun Ma, a professor of medicine at the UIC, leads a team that investigates the extent to which a virtual agent based on Amazon’s Alexa voice service can talk to people through the seven steps of a method of counseling known as problem-solving therapy. The steps are: Identify the problem, set a goal, think of solutions, evaluate each solution, decide the solution, take steps to implement the solution, and evaluate the outcome.
“This is a form of treatment that anyone can access from a phone or mobile device from where the Alexa app can be downloaded,” Ma said. “It’s about accessing the treatment on request at any time. It’s within reach of people. “
Dr. Jun Ma. University of Illinois at Chicago
The team is recruiting people with mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety or depression to see if talking to Lumen, a virtual mental health agent, helps them cope and feel better.
Technology is not meant to replace a human counselor, Ma said, but to make proven psychotherapy more accessible.
Quick access is important and necessary because counseling services are flooded and people can wait weeks to make an appointment.
Whether it’s friends, family, a virtual assistant, a psychotherapist, or a yoga and meditation leader, “There’s no time you say there are no more options,” Frank said.
“Each of us has an inherent value,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. We have to worry about each other. We can understand it no matter how much. There is no history of recovery. Everyone is different. It is about friendship, kindness and diligence. You have to keep working on it. “
The NAMI helpline (833-626-4244) operates from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Anyone interested in being screened to participate in the Lumen Virtual Coach Clinical Trial can call (312) 515-1094 or email SPEACstudy@uic.edu.