Under the Hood

Where To Get Free Mental Health Assistance Amid Pandemic

With new cases of COVID-19 and George Floyd protests growing at the same time across the U.S., many people are expected to experience higher levels of stress and anxiety. This encouraged some experts and organizations to offer free mental health assistance to help deal with impacts of social and health issues. 

A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. The agency found that nearly 46 percent of Americans in the 18 to 29 age brackets felt more symptoms of anxiety and depression since the disease started spreading in the U.S. 

Only 11 percent of young adults reported the same symptoms before the first coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“We need to get ahead of flattening the mental health needs curve,” Luana Marques, clinical psychologist, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, told CNBC.

Health authorities and scientists are still trying to find an effective way to eliminate or stop COVID-19 from spreading. However, as the health crisis continues to grow, another issue came that has also been causing more stress among Americans. 

Over the past weeks, rallies occurred across all 50 states and D.C. Thousands of people have been calling on the government and the public to address the issues of racism and police brutality in the U.S.

However, the protests also come with riots and conflicts with authorities. These, combined with the risk of spreading COVID-19, have been contributing to the country’s growing mental health problems.

Since there are very limited access to clinics and in-person programs for mental health, below are some free resources that may help people in stressful situations: 

Free Webinars

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has been producing webinars with psychologists and mental health clinicians on YouTube. The videos aim to provide information from experts that would guide people on managing their mental health and finding solutions to problems, like how families can manage anxiety, how to cope with financial stress or how to set work-life boundaries.

Online Support Groups

Staying connected is important. Marques said online support groups can be helpful when people want to discuss their conditions. 

These groups are also evidence-based and can provide information on the area you’re struggling with. Therapy for Black Girls uses Instagram to share crowd-sourced tips about work-life balance, burnout and stress along with a directory of therapists.

Esther Boykin, a licensed family and marriage therapist in Washington, D.C., also uses social media to guide people amid the coronavirus pandemic. She hosts a weekly free “mental health” happy hour on Instagram Live. 

Check School, Company Resources

Marques said most employers can provide therapies to their employees. Ask your human resources department about employee assistance that may give you access to free mental health programs. 

Many college health centers also have low-cost or free counseling services. Aside from therapies for students, schools may also provide wellness resources, such as meditation workshops and relaxation tools.

State Health Department

Local governments also have programs that focus on residents’ mental health. Check your state’s health department website to see emotional support helplines, connect with behavioral health providers and find guidelines for mental wellness during an emergency.

Mental Health and Support Group Some organizations in the U.S. are offering online support groups to help people address the rising levels of stress and anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Pixabay

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