LOWVILLE — With at least another few weeks ahead of staying home and social distancing, some people report craving “alone time” after being with their children, spouses and roommates non-stop. Others are experiencing true social distancing, living alone, craving contact, companionship and connection with other people.
The New York State Association of Counties is promoting an initiative called “Take 5 for NY” to help reduce those feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Lewis County joined the association’s efforts by launching its local version of the initiative this week.
County Manager Ryan Piche called upon residents to reach out to at least one person every day, to take five minutes to talk with someone that may be experiencing those feelings from social distancing to remind them they are not alone.
“One of the biggest challenges right now is that we’re into day 30 of this social distancing experiment, and it seems to be working, but it’s so important we stay connected to each other in the community, especially in a place like Lewis County where we are so connected and we rely and depend on each other on a day-to-day basis,” Mr. Piche said in a news conference on Tuesday.
The initiative asks people to call or video chat with a loved one, neighbor or someone living alone for five minutes each day to check-in and ask them how they’re doing.
“That connection is so important and it’s a very simple initiative, so we’re asking residents to ‘take five’ every day, five minutes,” Mr. Piche said, “Brighten their day and make that human connection we’re all missing right now.”
In addition to isolation, the new reality imposed by the pandemic is putting stress on individuals and families in a number of ways, but there are many resources offering help.
In a Facebook Live presentation on the county Public Health page on March 30, Melanie Saber of Transitional Living Services said that many reactions to the pandemic, social distancing, changes to routine and concern over finances from job loss are “normal,” like increased anxiety, irritability, inability to focus, depression symptoms and the inability to sleep.
Other reactions, however, may mean it’s time to reach out for some help. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, self-harming, suicidal thoughts or comments or being unable to get out of bed and do everyday activities like showering or getting the children ready for the day are some behavior changes that may indicate a problem is brewing.
“Economic uncertainty and isolation, two by-products of COVID-19, can be conditions that could escalate or contribute to domestic violence,” Lewis County Opportunities posted on its Facebook page. The organization offers a number of services including support for the victims of domestic violence.
There have also been two new resources free to state residents to help provide mental health support during the pandemic.
Headspace.com/ny supplies free meditation and mindfulness resources and a 24-hour hotline has been established that is staffed by volunteer mental health professionals to help people cope with the impact of the pandemic.
This line is not just for crisis, but even as a tool for coping with the new “normal” stress caused by the health crisis.
“Six thousand mental health professionals agreed to volunteer to provide mental health services for people who need it. How beautiful is that?” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the news conference announcing the creation of the hotline.
No matter how isolated people may be feeling with social distancing in full swing, someone to listen is just a phone call away.
For 24-hour support
— NYS COVID-19 mental health hotline 844-863-9314
— TLS AFTER HOURS MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS LINE 315-405-0696
— Lewis County Opportunities for victims of domestic violence hotline 315-376-4357
— National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255)
— National Helpline for treatment referral and information 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
— FREE 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text 741741 anywhere in the US
For mental health support services during business hours, contact:
— Transitional Living Services 315-376-5450 for psychological/counseling services
— Carthage Behavioral Health 315-346-3306 for psychological/counseling services
— Mountainview Prevention 315-376-2321 for addiction and mental health services
— Lewis County Opportunities, Inc.,315-376-8202 for domestic violence and mental health services
— Credo Community Center 315.788.1530 for Mental Health, Substance Use, Overdose Prevention & Education