in the time of COVID-19
The age of COVID-19 introduces many challenges to mental health. Isolation and the loss of normal social contact have removed resources we use to stay balanced. Worrying about potential exposure, being on the front lines—or knowing people who are—can be new daily stressors. We also face the loss of routines, a predictable future, financial stability, personal health—or even those we love. All of these factors can be especially hard for those living with preexisting mental health conditions.
We’ve gathered insights and resources here, from PacMed providers and others, to help you navigate different factors that may be affecting your mental well-being right now.*
- If you need more support, contact your primary care or behavioral health provider.
- If you have a PacMed primary care doctor, you can ask them for a referral to our behavioral medicine department.
- In a crisis, call 911 or utilize the “Crisis Resources” on this page to get immediate help.
Stay connected, consistent and caring
425 Magazine asked PacMed’s Alex Majcher about coping during COVID-19. Keeping a routine similar to before quarantine is important, she said, as well as contributing “to others’ well-being…. Reach out to people who may be lonely by phone, or teach someone who doesn’t know how to set up and use social media so they can connect with others as well.”
“One More Question” for a deeper virtual connection
If you’re connecting via Zoom or other video platforms, computer or phone screens may feel like a barrier to the deeper connecting we’re used to. If so, PacMed’s “One More Question” strategy can help you reach a more meaningful connection during virtual social visits.
Get active to stay fresh
Getting moving and spending a little bit of time outside each day can help “prevent feelings of being boxed in or restless” during COVID-19, says PacMed’s Alex Majcher. This was supported by a new study by Columbia University Medical School, covered in Health Psychology and the New York Times, showing that exercise can boost your mood. Curious how to exercise safely outside during COVID-19?
→ PacMed’s Dr. Chris Maeda’s Tips on Outdoor Exercise during COVID.
Mindfulness: peace through a battle
Many have compared our fight against COVID-19 to a wartime effort. PacMed’s Dr. Charles Falzon has taught mindfulness to veterans, and says even beginners can use its techniques to find peace without “looking for specific results,” but rather by “being ok with the path that we’re on.”
→ Read Dr. Falzon’s insights from Teaching Mindfulness to Veterans.
→ Watch Christy Goff's interview Tips to Reduce Stress During the Pandemic.
For those new to mindfulness, PacMed lead psychotherapist, Jack Shriner, recommends the following resources:
→ Intro to Mindfulness. Providence resource with a definition, basic exercises, good books and apps to get started.
→ Insight Timer. An app featuring guided meditations, classes and talks by meditation teachers on how to face the pandemic with equanimity.
→ Quarantine Tips & Tricks. Article on staying healthy inside for times you or loved ones are stuck at home, by Jennifer Stern, LICSW.
Grief and loss
According to Harvard, the discomfort of living during COVID-19 is an ongoing process of grief. This is true whether we face the loss of routines, financial stability, personal health or the passing of loved ones. Local author Jessica Mooney writes in Seattle Magazine that we are also mourning the future.
→ PacMed’s Rene Czerwinski writes on Coping with loss during COVID.
Strategies for families
Changes to our routines and social landscapes can be difficult for children and teens to understand. It can also exacerbate the normal stresses of family life, including behavior problems and sibling or parental conflict. You’re not the only family going through this. Taking some time to read up on expert advice strategies, or sharing your own, can help.
→ PacMed’s Chuck Potrykus on Talking to Teens during COVID.
→ PacMed’s Nawal Alkharouf on Family-Friendly Summer Fun During COVID-19.
→ ParentMap’s Expert Tips on Managing Family Conflict in Quarantine.
→ PacMed’s Jack Shriner talks with Warm 106.9: Life can be a challenge for youth. Learn how to support, and where to find professional help.
While not COVID-specific, these additional articles by PacMed staff may contain tips to help navigate family challenges that arise:
Dealing with Depression
The combination of stressors during COVID-19 may lead to symptoms of depression, or exacerbate the difficulty for those diagnosed with a mental condition. In addition to symptoms like hopelessness, lethargy and a loss of interest in activities you enjoy, heightened irritability can be a sign of depression, as well. It’s important you remain in touch with your health care provider if you notice changes to your mental well-being.
→ PacMed's Simon Katumu on Mental Health Awareness During Social Isolation.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a severe depression, please see the “Crisis Resources” on this page.
Keep up your physical health
With fears of COVID-19, it can be difficult to keep focus on the other health issues that may need attention. However, keeping up with routine exams and checking on any new health symptoms can not only help prevent trips to the emergency room, it can also reduce anxiety and give you peace of mind around your health.
PacMed has added telehealth visits so you can safely connect with doctors from your home, and we’ve made it safe to come in for any clinic visits you need, with added safety measures.
→ Read about PacMed’s Telehealth Virtual Visits.
→ See how our clinics are safe for you to visit.
Throughout May and June, we’ll be searching out and sharing the best strategies for mental health during the time of COVID-19. Keep up with these additional tips by searching Facebook and Instagram for the hashtags #CopingDuringCOVID and #ConnectingDuringCOVID.
We also have a full team of behavioral medicine providers ready to schedule time with any patients who also have a PacMed primary care provider. Learn more about them at www.PacMed.org/mentalhealth.
*Please note, the information provided on this page and any links you click on are for educational purposes only. They are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult a health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation.
If any of the content on this page triggers you in any way, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1.800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK) or see the other “Crisis Resources” on this page.
- Emergencies: 9-1-1 or the ER
- 24-hour crisis lines:
- Local support: 2-1-1
- Anonymous screening: www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org
- Suicide prevention lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
Our Behavioral Health Team
To schedule an appointment call 206.621.4045
Find out more about our Behavioral Medicine specialists, including their practice philosophies and special interests:
- Arora, Raman MD
- Bailey, Christopher MD
- Cotter, Caitlin LICSW
- Czerwinski, Rene LMHC, NCC
- Draghici, Catalina MD
- Faram, Nora MSW, MHP, LICSW
- Ku, Eun LICSW, CMHS, EMMHS, CDPT
- Leistiko, Sandie LICSW
- Majcher, Alex LICSW, MS
- Martin, Grace DNP, ARNP
- Merydith, Dawn LICSW
- Miles, Kim MSW, LICSW
- O'Neal, Stephanie LICSW
- Potrykus, Chuck MA, LMHC
- Rubinstein, Jodi LICSW
- Shih, Chelsea MD
- Short, Serena LMHC
- Shriner, Jack LICSW, CMHS
- St. Betts, Loren MSW, LICSW
- Story, Stacy LICSW
- Wolff, Rebecca LMHC