As you know, Washington state is facing unprecedented circumstances due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Forefront, like every other organization in the Seattle area, is adapting. Here’s what we’re doing.
First, we’ve canceled all in-person meetings and events for March and April, and we’re reviewing May.
Second, our team, like many others, is working remotely right now.
Third, we’re monitoring the situation and exploring ways to support the communities who participate in our programs during this difficult time.
We support the measures that our state is taking to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 epidemic in our region. It’s essential that our healthcare services don’t become overwhelmed.
But we also recognize that this situation is emotionally challenging for all of us. Social distancing and worry about the pandemic may lead to increased isolation, loss of sense of control, and anxiety and depression. And these effects may be more pronounced for the one in five of us already living with mental health conditions.
We need to be proactive in counteracting the risks to mental health for ourselves, our loved ones, and our community because we know that suicide rates decrease during times of societal connection and increase during times of societal disconnection.
Let’s make this a time of societal connection and purpose, not a time of disconnection and purposelessness—especially for young people, who are vulnerable in different ways during this crisis. I asked three high schoolers what they planned to do with their time off school. “Party,” they said. Let’s create scaffolding and routine for our kids through collaboration and consultation about what works for them.
There is more than one curve we can flatten during this pandemic. Below, you’ll find ways to address anxiety during coronavirus, and updates on Forefront’s recent work to expand suicide awareness and mental health support—something that’s more important than ever as we face the biggest disruption to our way of life in decades.
Jennifer Stuber, Ph.D.
Forefront Suicide Prevention Center Director
MANAGING ANXIETY DURING THE CORONAVIRUS NEW NORMAL
- Set up regular phone or FaceTime calls with people you are close to; show them gratitude for the important role they play in your life.
- Check-in regularly with how those you are concerned about are feeling; let them know you care about them.
- Connect with those you are living with: make time to do projects, watch movies, go for walks, etc. Don’t go, stir-crazy. Forgive and have patience with eachother.
- Pick up a new hobby that doesn’t require group activity (now is not the time to join a choir) or focus on a home project you’ve been putting off.
- If you’re a pet owner, SMOTHER YOUR ANIMALS WITH LOVE. (And if you’re working from home, go ahead and share them with your video conferences from time to time.)
- Drink alcohol and smoke pot less—not more—than you normally would. It’s not a healthy coping strategy during a time of stress. Also, it doesn’t boost your immune system, which is something we should all do right now.
- Exercise! The gym is closed (along with 5Ks, marathons, Little League, and pro sports), but home workout routines with bodyweight exercises are more accessible than ever online. If you prefer walking, now is a great time to get those steps in – especially since outside is the safest place to socialize right now. From six feet away, of course.
- Set routines for yourself and those you live with, especially if you’re suddenly working from home, or working different hours. If you have kids, help them find ways to learn something new or keep up with school projects, and to connect with friends through FaceTime and age-appropriate social media.
- Opportunities to give. Many people have significant hardship as a result of these sudden drastic changes, and people are organizing support via social media. There’s also large-scale philanthropic fundraising to support those in greatest need.
- Focus on what you can control: Don’t buy up all the toilet paper (assuming there’s any to be found), but make sure you have groceries to get you through a couple of weeks, and follow Public Health instructions on handwashing, sanitizing surfaces, and social distancing to protect yourselves and your loved ones.
Thanks to Sam Bradd, Drawing Change, for the use of his image.