Tips For Managing Mental Health During Coronavirus Shutdown

Lisa Marie Farver

This article originally appeared on the Wheaton Patch

ACROSS ILLINOIS — We’re just over a week into Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order and many Illinoisans may be struggling with anxiety, depression or other stresses related to the coronavirus shutdown. Patch talked with Joan Fefferman, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCPC, CADC) of JF Counseling Services PLLC, in Wheaton, to get tips formanaging mental illness, addiction and other issues during the shelter-in-place order.

Finding a Counselor

For some residents, finding a counselor may seem like a daunting task. Thankfully there are a number of resources online to help while in-person visits are not available.

Fefferman recommends using Psychology Today to search for counselors, if you have access to the internet. You can also call your insurance provider for a list of providers.

Fefferman added that Psychology Today recently added an “alert” feature that lets readers
easily see which therapists provide Telehealth, which provides virtual, confidential, HIPAA
compliant visits.

“In terms of non-emergencies, it’s more convenient,” Fefferman said. said. “In an
emergency,” she said, “call 911 or visit your local hospital emergency room.”

If you’re looking for a therapist, Fefferman recommends looking for a Licensed Clinical
Professional Counselor (LCPC) or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). "Insurance can
be charged either in-network or out-of-network, according to your contract with that provider," she explained.

Those without insurance can ask any potential therapist about a sliding scale, which might help
offset some of the cost.

“Although finding the best counselor for you can be a difficult and individualized process, the
internet has made finding a local therapist much easier in recent years. Using Google or other
search engines can help”, Fefferman said. She added, “Everyone needs somebody. The idea of
having a confidential advocate and mentor in your pocket is amazing.”

Don't miss updates about precautions in the Chicago area as they are announced. Sign up for Patch news alerts and newsletters.

Addressing Anxiety

Fefferman recommends checking in with yourself regularly to make sure you are not hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT). She suggests setting aside a specific “worry time,” during which you allow yourself to feel whatever your feeling. After that, she suggests not allowing yourself to worry for the rest of the day.

She says allowing yourself to worry with mindfulness and acceptance will let your thoughts slow down and can help your anxiety subside.

Fefferman says, “Remember things like self-care, exercise, good eating habits and enough sleep will also help.”

“If it’s possible, try not to deny stress, feel it and reach out to others through talking about it,”
she says.

Fefferman also suggests meditating and sending feelings of compassionate kindness to yourself and other beings. “Connect to everyone in your mind,” she suggests, “your family, your neighborhood, your city, plants and animals.”

She adds that performing “one act of kindness a day, can also go a long way in
helping your disposition and allowing a connection to be made between people.”

While you’re meditating, Fefferman also recommends that you “try to stay in a calm, safe zone
where your thoughts are in the present moment without any judgment. If an unwanted thought
comes in, it’s [alright] - you’re human; just return to your center.”

Domestic Abuse Victims

One concern we’ve been hearing from readers is how victims of domestic violence can cope with the order to stay at home. Fefferman told Patch that per the Illinois Counseling Association, it's considered essential travel if a victim of domestic violence is traveling to seek shelter.

Here are some additional resources for abuse victims in, around and outside of DuPage County:

  • The DuPage County Crisis Center, open 24 hours for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence
  • Metropolitan Family Shelter Services can put you in touch with a local shelter and also provides additional victim services
  • Crisis text line 741741 offers encrypted messaging for victims of abuse; text the word “home” to speak with a live counselor 24/7

Addiction Services

Again, Fefferman recommends checking in with yourself to see if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT). She says these and your personal triggers might be an alert that comes before misusing drugs and/or alcohol.

In addition, the DuPage County branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is hosting online support groups, which can help combat isolation during the coronavirus shutdown.

Some online support groups are also available through Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery.

Illinois Coronavirus March 29: Virus Spreads Through Jail