Watch ‘Let’s Talk’ Town Hall: Local Mental Health Experts Answer Reader Questions About Pandemic Stressors | Latest Headlines


The extraordinary stressors being caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic mean everyone must take care of their own mental health and watch for signs of trouble in those closest to them, local experts warn.

“We’re in for a perfect storm,” said Mike Brose, Chief Empowerment Officer of the Mental Health Association Oklahoma, during the latest installment of Tulsa World’s Let’s Talk virtual town hall series. “It’s just a convergence of things, and that’s troubling a lot of us.”

This “perfect storm” includes isolation from complying with stay-at-home bans and recommendations, worrying about elderly and other particularly vulnerable family members, caring for children in the home, working from home, being suddenly unemployed or fearing losing a job, and essential workers continue to put themselves and their families at risk to make a living.

dr Sara Coffey, director of child and adolescent psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, emphasized the need for everyone to take care of themselves, especially those caring for children.

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“We can’t give from an empty cup, so it’s really important that we take care of ourselves,” she said.

Coffey recommends that people remain vigilant about their personal stress levels.

“We’re all going to have our individual signs, or ‘tells.’ Some people may feel they are getting a little more irritable; You might have physical symptoms like gastrointestinal upset or headaches. Recognize before we react,” she said.

Among the suggestions she had for parents responsible for 24-hour child care is to take a moment or two to do gentle breathing exercises — inhale for four seconds, hold your breath in your lungs for four seconds, four seconds exhale – before attending to the needs of the children.

“Taking a mindful minute, going for a walk, getting a loved one on the phone — as adults in a room, we often model our children’s behavior,” Coffey said. “When I say I’m going for a walk alone, it sets a good example for the kids around us.”

Wayne Greene, editor of the editorial pages of Tulsa World and host of the event, asked Coffey, “It helps to be honest with your kids, too, doesn’t it?”

Coffee replied, “Absolutely. Children can be like little sponges. Their worries could be very different from those of adults.”

She suggests that adults identify each child’s specific fears or questions and be sure to address these, in addition to addressing the situation in general.

“I encourage adults to ask kids open-ended questions,” Coffey said. “They may be worried about going back to school or when they’ll next be able to talk to their grandmother.”

Greene also said, “People may not see (warning) signs — they just know they can’t sleep or sleep through the night, or have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or are drinking too much or using drugs.” , lose control.”

Brose agreed, saying people need to know to call 211, the readily available system for information and referrals to community services, or 911 in an emergency, and understand that mental health providers across Oklahoma are continuing to work to To serve patients safely through telephone and video channels.

He strongly recommends that everyone try to stick to some version of their normal daily routines for waking up, grooming, finishing work on time, and getting enough rest or sleep, as well as exercising indoors or outdoors, tending the garden, or rediscovering a lost hobby.

Or, as Brose put it, “practical, sensible things that can make a positive difference in mental health care.”

topic next week

Tulsa World will continue its Let’s Talk virtual town hall series every Tuesday, with next week’s event covering local and national efforts in support of those hurt by the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Guests include US Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., Rose Washington, Chief Executive Officer of the Tulsa Economic Development Corp., and Robin Roberson, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

The Town Hall Series is sponsored by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, TTCU Federal Credit Union and OSU Medicine.

Would you like to participate? Email your questions to next week’s guests at [email protected] to 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 14.

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Andreas Eger

918-581-8470

andrea.eger

@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @AndreaEger

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