Updated: Jun 28
There are many sources of information out there for us to digest. A term that has become popular is "Fake News". Fake news consists of misleading stories that are meant to lie or confuse whoever is reading the content. Unfortunately during pandemics such as the Coronavirus, people with bad intentions supply fake news to a vulnerable demographic. To counter these measures, someone certified in Mental Health First Aid should use the "G" in the action plan: giving reassurance and information.
There is a lot of information out there about the Coronavirus. As soon as you turn on the television you immediately hear about the death toll. This is especially true when you turn on any news outlet. I've been talking to senior citizens who rely on Fox News and CNN for all of their information. They are growing more and more anxious by the day when they hear about someone in their age group either becoming infected or passing away from Coronavirus.
"I just saw that 45 people in a active senior community contracted Coranivirus. I know I'm next." I recently had this conversation 5 times back to back with people over 50 years old. These were men and women both black and white, democrat and republican that I was having these conversations with. So how do you give people reassurance and information? You do so by giving them reliable sources.
The first thing that I do is direct them to the CDC's Coronavirus page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html. The CDC is one of the leading organizations helping fight this pandemic. They have a well documented history of battling infectious diseases and have the best doctors working around the clock to give up to date information on all Coronavirus matters. "Sir/Mam, I know you are anxious about becoming infected but I think it would be best if you got your information from the CDC". Reassurance includes understanding the fear of the person you are talking to and making sure they know they are in a safe environment.
Someone battling a mental health emergency may take extra precautions. I talked with one person who told me because of social distancing they have become more depressed. They started taking more of their prescribed Sertraline and combining it with alcohol to assuage their symptoms. Mixing any type of prescription drug and alcohol is dangerous so I had to direct this person to the World Health Organization's Coronavirus page: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019. I had to reassure this person that as long as they are following the guidelines set by the CDC and the WHO they are reducing the risk of them catching Coronavirus.
This information is no good if people do not know how to access it. So part of me giving information to people is sending websites and instructions on how to download apps on their smartphones. For people I have direct contact with I even set up Google alerts for them to keep them informed about Coronavirus updates. Also sending them apps like the Headspace App can be helpful and conducive reducing a mental health or substance abuse emergency.