Taking Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19

May 27, 2020

By Byron Ford, B.A. Ed, RN, CPPS, Bourbon Behavioral Health Clinical Supervisor

When it comes to protecting ourselves during the current COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy to focus exclusively on physical health – making sure we are following CDC guidelines, practicing social distancing and doing everything we can to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe and healthy. All those things are very important. But there is another important facet of our health that we should not ignore during this time – our mental health. National Mental Health Month is observed each May to provide a platform for discussing mental health and raising awareness of the important role it plays in our lives. This May, as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, it is more essential than ever.

Our mental health has a big influence on our overall health and well-being. Not only does it affect how productive we are at work, how we make decisions and how we cope with stress, but it can also affect our physical health. Take stress for example. Stress can have a direct impact on our immune system, and when we are not able to cope with stress adequately, it can compromise our body’s ability to fight off illness.

Mental health issues are very common, affecting millions of Americans each year. During difficult times like we are currently experiencing in our community and around the world, many of us are faced with unforeseen physical, social and economic challenges that can elevate stress, depression and other mental health issues and even have an impact in those who normally are not affected by these conditions. The bottom line? If you are suffering, you are not alone.

The good news is that there are some things you can do to help alleviate stress and boost your mental health – not just during the challenges we are facing today, but in all situations:

  • Practicing positive thinking by focusing your thoughts on your best qualities
  • Sticking to a schedule and maintaining a healthy and regular routine (up at the same time each day, meal times, and an activity you really love each day)
  • Getting creative by trying painting, drawing, writing stories and poetry, or other creative activities
  • Keeping a journal to express your frustrations and tracking your progress
  • Checking-in regularly with family, friends and work colleagues
  • Taking time to relax, recharge and rest
  • Maintaining healthy, nutritious eating and staying hydrated
  • Avoiding unhelpful coping strategies like alcohol, drug and tobacco use
  • Focusing on the things that you can control and accepting what you cannot and
  • Avoiding excessive time watching news and social media

Another thing to remember about mental health? It is okay to talk about it. A safe, supportive and accepting environment is important if you are suffering. Just as most people wouldn’t think twice about seeing a doctor for chest pain or other serious physical symptoms, it is important to proactively seek help and get the medical attention you need if you are experiencing a mental health condition.

How about some more good news? The prognosis for mental health conditions is good. In fact, most people who seek treatment for a mental health condition do show improvement. If you are experiencing a mental health issue, the benefits of seeking help and treatment can make a positive difference in your overall quality of life.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress or another mental health condition, Bourbon Behavioral Health is able to safely provide help. Bourbon Behavioral Health, formerly Stoner Creek Centre, offers treatment for adults (18+) and adolescents (12-17) based upon the needs of the patient and their family/caregivers. The conditions we treat include anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia and intensive, medically-supervised detox from alcohol, heroin, benzodiazepines and opiates. Our behavioral health services include therapeutic individual/group therapy and education, pet therapy, recreational therapy, extensive discharge planning and a balanced mix of behavioral health and medical care from a team of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, therapists, nurses, social workers, mental health technicians, recreation therapists and Kentucky certified teachers. When you or a family member need behavioral health care, it’s comforting to know you have an option right here in our community.  

As the situation regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, so does our response. Out of abundance of caution and to help ensure the safety of our patients, providers, employees and community, Bourbon Behavioral Health remains under a zero-visitor protocol until further notice. All behavioral health patients are screened for COVID-19 through the emergency department before being admitted to the adult or adolescent behavioral health unit. Our behavioral health units are clean and safe – just like they always have been! We keep current on the most effective cleaning and disinfection protocols available in healthcare today. Using EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant, we clean all equipment, common areas, chairs, door handles, carts, TV remotes, telephones, and other hard surfaces throughout both the adult and adolescent behavioral health units every two hours. The air systems are inspected, tested and serviced on a regular basis by our qualified technicians. We provide proper air exchanges in accordance with all healthcare regulations. Furthermore, we encourage patients to maintain social distancing in the units and group activities and meals have no more than 10 people together at a time. Bourbon Behavioral Health wants to send a clear message to our community that we are responding appropriately and are committed to protecting the well-being of our patients, providers, employees and community.

Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be reached at 800-273-8255 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

Visit BourbonHospital.com for more information, or call 888-394-HOPE (4673). For more information on mental health, visit www.mentalhealth.gov.