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How to Help Someone with Anxiety or Depression During COVID-19

 If you or someone you care about feels overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or like you want to harm yourself or others call 911.

You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text MHFA to 741741 to talk to a Crisis Text Line counselor.

Feeling anxiety or depression is a common reaction in times of uncertainty or when there’s a perception of danger, and the COVID-19 situation certainly qualifies as such a time. This is something new and worrying that we are all facing together.

That’s why we encourage you to use tips from Mental Health First Aid to support those around you who might be feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed. With these tips, you can #BeTheDifference for your loved ones while physical distancing and help them through this challenging time.

Use these tips from the MHFA curriculum to help someone with anxiety or depression during COVID-19:

  1. Assess for risk of suicide or harm. Identify if they’re experiencing a crisis such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, and address that first. It’s OK to do the assessment over the phone, text or social media. If the person’s life is in immediate danger, call 911.
  2. Listen nonjudgmentally. If the person isn’t in a crisis, ask how they’re feeling and how long they’ve been feeling that way. Pay attention and show you care.
  3. Give reassurance and information. Your support can have a huge impact on the person. Reassure them that it is appropriate to experience fear, sadness or anxiety during situations like this. Remind them that help is available, and you’ll be there for them along the way.
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help. Offer to help them find a professional for support, such as a primary care physician, mental health professional, psychiatrist or certified peer specialist. Behavioral health care providers can provide services by phone and/or secure videoconferencing, so they will be able to maintain physical distancing.
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies. Self-help strategies and reaching out for support from family, friends, faith communities and others who have experienced depression or anxiety (peer supporters) can make a difference.

There are other self-care strategies that can help manage symptoms of anxiety or depression, as well as self-care strategies that can help you manage your own mental health during this time. We encourage you to take a few minutes every day to focus on your mental health needs, connect with loved ones, and find support using technology. Thank you for choosing to #BeTheDifference with Mental Health First Aid.