The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is advising the public to be aware of their mental health, as well as their physical health, while socially distancing during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.”
Health officials noted that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. They advised that one should take breaks from checking upsetting news stories, stay away from social media, and take measures to take care of one's body during the pandemic.
According to the CDC, stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones;
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns;
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating;
- Worsening of chronic health problems;
- Worsening of mental health conditions;
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his daily COVID-19 press briefings that the state has set up an emotional support helpline that is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The hotline can be reached by calling 1-844-863-9314.
“We’re aware of the mental health aspect, and the stress that comes with isolation that this has caused,” Cuomo said. “People are trying in their own way to grapple with what this means and what’s the impact and how do you rationalize this situation? The mental health aspect is very real.”
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