Living up to Gov. Phil Murphy’s “you are not alone … we are all in this together” motto, both Rutgers University and Mental Health Association in New Jersey have increased efforts to provide tips and telehealth services and promote help hotlines in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Rutgers’ many tools are always available, Ghinassi said. Telehealth options have expanded among patients, who range from pre-school to geriatric, including all the state’s 19,000 prison inmates.
“With this crisis, there’s going to be a paradigm shift in telehealth,” Ghinassi said. “We find now that we’re in social isolation that has quarantined people who are being told to stay in their homes, we rapidly are deploying traditional out-patient behavioral health through telehealth methods, such as video, when necessary, and telephone care.”
Volunteer helplines include 10 peer-to-peer options that run 24-7, Ghinassi said.
Rutgers Behavioral Health Care also is closely monitoring the persistently mentally ill, who often are homeless and hungry, he said.
In response to COVID-19, the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University also is offering phone and telepsychology services, which New Jersey residents can access at bit.ly/39jNYJw. There also are options for Rutgers students, faculty and staff.
“We recognize that the federal government and other public health officials are encouraging the safe health practice of ‘social distancing’ to decrease the spread of COVID-19,” the school wrote on its website. “As a result, in-person mental health services may not be as readily available. Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has created an increased need for individuals to have a safe space to discuss their concerns and receive some support.”
Mental Health Association in New Jersey is a statewide nonprofit that offers advocacy, education, training, and services, including volunteer help and suicide hotlines.
In addition to a special help line at 866-202-HELP (4357) dedicated to coping with the panic of the pandemic, the group suggested on its website that “taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.”
Mental Health Association also offered the following tips:
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.