COVID-19: Behavioral Health and Well-being

March 10, 2020

With 24-hour news coverage of COVID-19’s spread, rising death tolls, fluctuating stock markets, and declarations from top officials that the United States is unprepared to handle the pending global pandemic, it is not surprising that Americans are worried. Fear, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder followed major infectious disease outbreaks earlier in this century, and behavioral health clinicians should be prepared for similar reactions to the current COVID-19 situation.

Although public health authorities worldwide are taking this health issue very seriously, there are a lot of unknowns, and uncertainty fuels anxiety and depression. Stress weakens the immune system, so the more you worry, paradoxically, the more you may be decreasing your ability to fight off the virus. Thus far, the most severe cases of COVID-19 have occurred in medically compromised populations, which includes psychiatric patients, especially those with anxiety disorders or severe mental illness.

There are many simple and effective ways to help manage your fears and anxieties. Many of them are essential ingredients for a healthy lifestyle; adopting them can help improve your overall emotional and physical well-being.

 

Plan ahead.  Have a plan if your office or schools close. Make sure you have the tools and resources needed to work from home, and discuss this option in advance with your employer. To prepare for cancellation of business travel, make sure you have the technology and tools to hold virtual meetings.
Stick to reliable sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. There is a lot of information and some misinformation in the media.
Keep things in perspective. Limit the time you spend watching or listening to media coverage. Although you will want to keep informed, remember to take a break from watching the news and focus on the things that are positive in your life and things that you have control over.
Be mindful of your assumptions about others. Someone who has a cough or a fever or someone traveling from another country does not necessarily have COVID-19. Self-awareness is essential in not stigmatizing others.
Stay healthy. Exercise can decrease stress levels and boost your immune system. Eat well and prioritize sleep. Being tired and run down can weaken your resistance to viruses. Look for opportunities to reduce stress by using mindfulness and meditation apps and techniques.
Keep connected. Maintaining social networks can help preserve a sense of normalcy and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.
Get additional support from mental health services or professionals if you feel consistent or overwhelming worry or anxiety.

 

This is an especially stressful time for health care workers and emergency workers as they take care of those potentially infected with COVID-19. If you are in this group or have a friend or family member that is, encourage them to take proper steps to care for themselves, monitor for stress reactions, and seek professional help if needed.

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Please be advised that any and all information, comments, analysis, and/or recommendations set forth above relative to the possible impact of COVID-19 on potential insurance coverage or other policy implications are intended solely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. As an insurance broker, we have no authority to make coverage decisions as that ability rests solely with the issuing carrier. Therefore, all claims should be submitted to the carrier for evaluation. The positions expressed herein are opinions only and are not to be construed as any form of guarantee or warrantee. Finally, given the extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, comments above do not take into account any applicable pending or future legislation introduced with the intent to override, alter or amend current policy language.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a guarantee of coverage and should not be used as a substitute for an individualized assessment of one’s need for insurance or alternative risk services, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice, which should only be rendered by a competent attorney familiar with the facts and circumstances of a particular matter. Copyright Beecher Carlson Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.