“Affectionate touches tap into the nervous system’s rest and digest mode, reducing the release of stress hormones, bolstering the immune system, and stimulating brainwaves linked with relaxation.”
by Ashley Yeager
“It had been seven weeks since I’d touched another human being. Arms outstretched, I walked quickly toward my dad, craving his embrace. In the instant before we touched, we paused, our minds probably running quick, last-minute calculations on the risk of physical contact. But, after turning our faces away from each other and awkwardly shuffling closer, we finally connected. Wrapped in my dad’s bear hug, I momentarily forgot we were in the midst of the worst global crisis I have ever experienced.
“’Touch is the most powerful safety signal of togetherness,’ says Steve Cole, a psychiatrist and biobehavioral scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Like more than 35 million other Americans, I live alone, and with the guidelines of physical distancing set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I hadn’t been getting close to anyone to avoid being infected with (or potentially spreading) SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. I’d been working, thankfully, at home and staying connected with friends and family through Zoom and Skype, but those virtual interactions were no replacement for being with loved ones in person.”
“Newsy’s latest poll found around 1 in 10 sought out therapy since the pandemic began.”
by Lindsey Theis
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led more people to try therapy for the first time in their lives.
“‘As we stabilize their psychosis and you continue to speak with them, you get down to it and they’re like, ‘”I was really anxious, over COVID,’’ said Dr. Eric French, Medical Director of Adult Psychiatry at Colorado’s Medical Center of Aurora.
“Newsy’s latest poll found around 1 in 10 (12%) sought out therapy since the pandemic began – with 46% saying it was their first time seeking it.
“Among those who sought out therapy, men were significantly more likely than women to get therapy for the first time (63% vs. 21%). Traditionally, men are much less likely to see a mental health professional.”
“Daily life has been upended, creating a perfect storm for a crisis.”
by Jean Twenge
“When the novel coronavirus roared into the U.S., mental health took a back seat to physical health. The number one priority was making sure hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed and that as many lives as possible could be saved.
“Schools closed, remote work became the norm, restaurants shuttered and getting together with friends was no longer possible. The news cycle spun with story after story highlighting the ever-increasing number of cases and deaths, while unemployment soared to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
“Any one of these shifts could be expected to cause an increase in mental health issues. Put together, they created a a perfect storm for a crisis.
“Experts speculated as much, and polls showed that many people seemed to intuitively grasp the mental toll of the pandemic. However, data on mental health metrics was scant; we didn’t know the magnitude of any changes in mental health issues, nor did we understand which groups of people were suffering more than others.”
“Nearly Half of Americans are Struggling With Loneliness Amid Social Distancing, and Many Don’t Know Where to Find Help” – Value Penguin
by Stirling Price
“Loneliness is a feeling of sadness and unhappiness about being socially isolated. According to the Mayo Clinic, loneliness can be a serious health concern with long-term issues associated with depression and anxiety.
“With stay-at-home orders in place across America, ValuePenguin’s goal was to better understand how Americans are coping with the lack of social interactions. Our survey found that nearly half of Americans are struggling with loneliness amid social distancing, and many are feeling more anxious.
“Just What Older People Didn’t Need: More Isolation | The coronavirus pandemic could sharpen the health risks of loneliness. But there are ways to connect.” – The New York Times
“Now, older people have been sternly warned to adopt the very practices that … can endanger their health. With senior centers, day programs, theaters, parks, gyms and restaurants closed and most in-person visiting prohibited, they are enduring a lengthening period of social separation. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are barring family members.”
by Paula Span
“At midmorning, Lisa Carfagna, a marketing staffer for the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, took a brief break from working at home on Long Island and called the Rubins on the Upper East Side.
“They were doing fine, Seymour Rubin, 89, assured her over a speakerphone.
“‘We try to have a project every day,’ said Shirley Rubin, 84. ‘Today, I’m making a beef stew for the first time in 40 years.’
“‘If I’m here tomorrow,’ her husband put in, ‘you’ll know it was good.’”
“COVID-19 could lead to an epidemic of clinical depression, and the health care system isn’t ready for that, either” – The Conversation
“AP Photo/John Minchillo” –
“Isolation, social distancing and extreme changes in daily life are hard now, but the United States also needs to be prepared for what may be an epidemic of clinical depression because of COVID-19.
“We are clinical psychological scientists at the University of Washington’s Center for the Science of Social Connection. We study human relationships, how to improve them, and how to help people with clinical depression, emphasizing evidence-based approaches for those who lack resources.
“We do not wish to be the bearers of bad news. But this crisis, and our response to it, will have psychological consequences. Individuals, families and communities need to do what they can to prepare for a depression epidemic. Policymakers need to consider – and fund – a large-scale response to this coming crisis.
A perfect storm of depression risks
“Most of us know the emotional components of depression: sadness, irritability, emptiness and exhaustion. Given certain conditions, these universal experiences take over the body and transform it, sapping motivation and disrupting sleep, appetite and attention. Depression lays waste to our capacity to problem-solve, set and achieve goals and function effectively.”
To continue reading this article in its entirety at The Conversation, click here.
“During the coronavirus challenge, it’s important for populations at higher risk – older people especially those with underlying health issues – to practice ‘social distancing’ – but a scaled down social life doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Using the Internet can connect us with the people we care about and can bring us in touch with a wider world – both of which make us feel less isolated and lonely.
Recent statistics show that seniors are rapidly entering the social networks arena. Sign up for a network, connect with friends (you might even discover some old friends) and enjoy the results.
Click here to read this article in its entirety at Senior Planet.
“Finding the Right Words About COVID-19 | A playbook of tips for health care workers in extraordinary times” – California Health Care Foundation
by Kate Meyers
“Health care organizations in California and around the US are working incredibly hard to prepare for or respond to a surge of patients suffering from symptoms related to COVID-19. Appropriately, preparation has focused on trying to ensure adequate numbers of health care professionals and sufficient supplies and equipment in the right places at the right times as the demand grows.
“That focus on numbers and logistics is essential. Also important but perhaps less widely acknowledged is the need to prepare our clinical workforce for the types of circumstances found in Washington and Italy and now emerging in New York, California, and other hot spots we read about every day. Clinicians and staff — in skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, and beyond — face the prospect of caring for increasing numbers of very sick people, some of whom will not recover. Talking with these patients and their loved ones with compassion and clarity about what is happening, what to expect, and what their options are is extremely important. To many clinicians, it is a daunting prospect.”
Continue reading this article,click here.
Governor Tom Wolf introduced an online form for Pennsylvanians to provide feedback on mental health barriers, services and how the state can better support people’s mental health needs. The creation of the form is on the heels of the governor’s Jan. 2 announcement of Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters initiative to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health and well-being services and supports.
“Having a way for all voices to be heard is critical to our goal of increasing access to mental health services, breaking down barriers, and detailing the ways we can meet the mental health needs of all,” Gov. Wolf said. “I encourage every Pennsylvanian to reach out via this online form to let us know their thoughts and suggestions.”
Of note is the first message on the form, which advises site visitors, “If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text PA to 741741.”
“It’s critical that people in crisis have a way to get immediate help, which is why we included the suicide prevention lifeline first,” Gov. Wolf said. “Our form is intended for feedback and suggestions for the commonwealth as we move forward with breaking down barriers, improving services and reducing mental health stigmas.”
The commonwealth will not share any identifying information without permission of those who submit information. Comments and suggestions will be compiled and reviewed to determine next steps in program and service development or redesign, as well to convey pertinent information to state agencies involved in the initiative. Forms may be submitted anonymously.
“You can help improve the state of mental health in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “Completing this form and sharing your thoughts and ideas is another step in the right direction to make mental health a priority for all.”
The online form is available now.