This week I started volunteering on the Georgia COVID-19 emotional support line. The line is set up to provide emotional support and provide #mentalhealth resources to individuals in the state of Georgia during the pandemic. I've been using my Mental Health First Aid training to help people who call the line. I've volunteered a couple of days and I like to share three things that I've learned about the impact of the #Coronavirus on mental health.
1.) People Are Depressed, REALLY Depressed
I talked to someone here who said her mom passed away in New York. New York seems to be where the most Coronavirus cases are in the country. The woman who I talked to said one day her mother went in for a routine doctor's appointment. Two days later her mother died from Coronavirus. She was devastated. What made matters even worse for her was that she couldn't go to New York to plan the funeral.
Putting my Mental Health First Certification to work I empathized with the woman. I quickly learned the impact that Coronavirus is having on mental health. This woman was devastated: she just lost her mother, she couldn't plan for the funeral, and she was considered an essential worker so she was afraid of catching Coronivirus. Anxiety was daily for her because she was so directly impacted by the Coronavirus. To help assuage her emotions I made sure that she knew where to get help and made sure she knew she could call the emotional support line 24/7.
2.) People Are Being Misled, Which Is Causing Anxiety
I talked to a man who is a home health aid. He is still considered an essential worker and is worried about entering other people's homes. He was getting information from various sources: Facebook, friends, the morning news and Twitter. He was growing more and more anxious by the day. Along with his anxiety he was growing angry with all the information that was being disseminated.
His biggest fear was catching Coronavirus from entering a home that wasn't properly disinfected. He was taking the proper precautions to protect himself but was fearful, anxious, and depressed. He stated he was growing depressed because he wanted to quit his job due to the risk involved during this pandemic we are facing.
To assuage his fears, I used the G in the mental health action plan: Give Reassurance and Information. I informed him of where he can get the most reliable information. This is the CDC's website: https://www.cdc.gov/. I wanted to reassure him that his feelings to protect himself were valid and where he can go to get the most up to date information on the Coronavirus.
3.) Social Distancing Is Causing Loneliness
One call that I will never forget is a call from a man who just wanted to read me his poems. He was an elderly man but still active. However since all of his friends were being quarantined he couldn't remember the last time he saw them. He stated he was extremely lonely and just wanted someone to talk to. I sat and listened to his poems and held a nice conversation about his inspirations for his writings.
By the end of the call I could "hear" the smile on his face. He stated this was the most social interaction that he had in the last two weeks. I assured him that he can call the support line 24/7 and he may even talk with me again since I will continue to volunteer on the line.
Depression...anxiety...loneliness. The people of the peach state are emotionally hurting. My career in the military was very short, but I am proud to be serving my country in this capacity. This is unlike anything we have seen before. Providing this emotional and mental health support has given me new life and I love helping people, and I love the state of Georgia.