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Coping with a crisis

Think for a moment about how stressed you are right now. Our lives have changed so suddenly. Now think about the little ones and the teens in your family. How are they handling the stress right now?

Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, are telling us every day that Ohioans are caped crusaders who have made all the difference against a common enemy. And the praise is great. But there still are moments when we struggle to cope. They call it a stay-at-home order, but it is a lockdown, especially for the most vulnerable among us who are at highest risk of serious illness.

“Feelings of anxiety and uncertainty are completely normal at times like this,” writes Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “…while we all are concerned about the future, for those with anxiety disorders, worry may be all-consuming. For those with schizophrenia, the concern that people are infectious may contribute to paranoia. And for those with depression, lack of social engagement and disruptions in routine could increase symptoms.”

Stress during infectious disease outbreaks is a common occurrence right now. You are not alone. You worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones. Everyone likely has a member of the family who is an essential employee, out there working while nonessentials stay home. Sleeping and eating patterns are affected, and when you sit down to read a book or work on a hobby, how long does your concentration last? How is your stress affecting your chronic health problems? Have you increased the use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs?

Don’t saturate yourself with the news. Get in, find out what you want to know, and get out again. Use reliable resources for your information. Deep breathing, stretches and meditation will help you to take care of your body. Let yourself unwind with activities and hobbies you enjoy, and talk on the phone, in chat, Facetime, with friends and family. Stay connected with others. What needs done and what can wait? Breathe and be.

Talk to your children about the outbreak. Answer questions in ways they understand at their level. Limit news coverage, including social media. Try to keep up with the regular routines and create a schedule for learning activities and relaxation and fun activities. Be a role model for them.

The pandemic crisis is getting more real every day. The National Council for Behavioral Health is urging Congress to authorize $38.5 billion in emergency funding to prevent mental health and/or addiction providers failing to provide services their clients rely on, “just to keep the doors open and the lights on.”

“If these organizations fail, millions of people living with mental illness or addiction will flood health centers, urgent care facilities and emergency departments, all of which are already over-burdened,” the Council advises in an article published April 10 at the website.

In addition to the $38.5 billion mentioned above, the Mental Health Liaison Group urges and additional $10 billion in emergency funding “to expand services to meet increased demand in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including quickly transitioning the current national suicide prevention lifeline to the 9-8-8 dialing code, and enhancing local crisis response programs.”

There are no easy decisions right now, and because this is unprecedented, it will take some time to work everything out to get everyone through these difficult times. We need to look ahead, too, at how we will handle all of our consequences later on. Hold onto those capes and keep wearing those masks. We’re working our way through this. You can do this. But if you are struggling to work through issues, Family Recovery staff is available to walk you through some of it, 330-424-1468.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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