We understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for many of our neighbors. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children alike. The CDC provides mental health guidance on how to cope and manage stress or anxiety for individuals, parents, and responders.

Social distancing does not mean social isolation. It is important to find ways to support our neighbors and lift each other up through this crisis. According to the Red Cross, when we experience a disaster or stressful life event, we can have a variety of reactions, including:

  • Feeling physically and mentally drained
  • Having difficulty making decisions or staying focused on topics
  • Becoming easily frustrated on a more frequent basis
  • Arguing more with family and friends
  • Feeling tired, sad, numb, lonely or worried
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or sleep patterns

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) fellowship groups are hosting more than 150 virtual meetings per week in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Greater San Jose Area – Narcotics Anonymous (NA) also continues to support people in our area through online meetings.

Children of different ages react in different ways to trauma. In addition to the materials provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics, your local Red Cross can give you information about helping children cope with disasters, and the CDC provides resources for caring for children and youth with special healthcare needs during emergencies. 

Social distancing requirements may be especially hard for teenagers, who may feel cut off from their friends and regular activities. Teens may understandably feel disappointment as milestone events such as graduations, proms, and other events are cancelled or postponed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Tips for parenting teens during the pandemic can be found here.

Parents Helping Parents also serves as a resource for families under pressure or stress that have family members with special needs (which includes about 20% of the population). Parents Helping Parents recognizes the challenges of having children with special needs of any age outside of their trusted and loved routines. As there’s understandably a fear that comes when we don’t have answers to our most pressing questions, Parents Helping Parents provides a succinct way for families to find relevant information and connect to resources, including a full E-Learning library.

The Shelter-in-Place order particularly impacts people in physically or emotionally abusive relationships. Shelters like the YWCA Silicon Valley continue to provide safety net services to the community, including their 24-hour crisis line (800) 572-2782 and online chat service.

Residents of Santa Clara County can access local services for support and guidance:

The National Institute of Mental Health provides more literature on warning signs and support for immediate help during a crisis. National organizations including Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and National Council for Behavioural Health also aid individuals and communities during this time with programs, resources, and information. 

There are numerous free online resources to help all ages with coping. Headspace, an online mindfulness and wellbeing app, offers its services for free to users. This includes meditation, sleep, and movement exercises. Well Connected is a free program by Covia which allows people to socialize and learn through online and phone classes on a range of topics and areas of commonality. 

Several gyms, including Core Power Yoga, Gold’s Gym, and Planet Fitness, offer free workouts on their website or streamed live through social media. Mon Ami, a free service that connects volunteer companions, is accessible to people across the country who may feel or be physically isolated by COVID-19. The platform matches people by interests, language spoken, and time availability. 

Oasis Everywhere is a new national program offering live online, affordably priced courses. Oasis classes are programmed with the interests of adults ages 50 and over in mind and cover a variety of topics ranging from art and history to science, religion, cooking, technology, current events, health, and more:  www.oasiseverywhere.org.