Life

Managing Mental Health During COVID-19 — Telemedicine Can Help

This year’s mental health awareness campaign, You Are Not Alone, reminds people that now, more than ever, the mental health community is coming together to make connection possible during a climate of physical distancing.

Manypeople are understandably feeling scared, anxious and stressed during thisCOVID-19 pandemic. It is valid to want to talk to someone about your feelings, saysRachel Rohaidy, M.D., a psychiatrist with Baptist Health South Florida, and yetsocial distancing has created barriers to obtaining support from family,friends and coworkers. If left untreated, anxiety and depression can worsen andhave long-term effects on your health. The good news is, mental healthcounseling is more accessible, convenient and affordable than ever before,thanks to telemedicine.

Telemental health services are not new, but theirusage and acceptance are growing. Online mental health services are perfectlysuited to this pandemic situation because they provide people with access to vitaltreatment without increasing risk of infection.

Through Baptist HealthCare On Demand, Dr. Rohaidy and other experts are helping people cope withstress, loneliness, reduced autonomy and financial concerns from the comfortand safety of their homes. To speak to a licensed behavioral healthprofessional through a secure live video chat, patients can download the BaptistHealth Care On Demand app on their smartphone, tablet or computer, enroll by completinga brief questionnaire and then make an appointment via the app.

BaptistHealth Care On Demand is also a good option for people who wish to move their routinein-person therapy sessions online. “Almost all mental health issues can beaddressed via telemedicine,” Dr. Rohaidy added. “There are so many people wecan reach who otherwise would not get help.”

Whenis the right time to seek professional help?According to Dr. Rohaidy, signsof mental distress include fighting with loved ones, bursts of anger orannoyance, crying spells, feelings of panic and excessive substance use. Inchildren and teens, parents should watch for aggressive behavior, withdrawaland self-isolation, difficulty concentrating and complaints of aches and pain. “Ifyou or a loved one cannot function or formulate thoughts and plans to moveforward, then it is time to reach out to a mental health specialist,” Dr.Rohaidy advised.  

In many cases, self-care strategies can help people improve their mental health and increase resiliency. Dr. Rohaidy recommends implementing the following strategies that benefit your body and your mind:

  • Maintain a regular routine. Keeping a consistent schedule for meals, self-care, chores, exercise and work can help you feel more in control.
  • Create a work-life balance. Set limits on your time to work and do not check your email during your designated downtime.
  • Establish priorities. Too many commitments can be overwhelming, so only commit to those that bring you happiness.
  • Exercise several times a week. Jogging, walking, lifting weights and doing yoga can lead to emotional well-being.
  • Get enough sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same times each day.
  • Avoid emotional eating. Unhealthy foods can lead to unhealthy emotions and negative feelings. Being mindful of what you eat can help ease anxiety and moodiness.
  • Nourish your soul. Set aside time to do activities you find relaxing, like walking, taking a warm bath, meditating, reading a book, listening to music or enjoying nature.
  • Curb your media exposure. Limit yourself to one hour a day of screen time to avoid an overload of negative news stories that can exacerbate anxiety.
  • Nurture your spiritual life.  
  • Be positive. Re-frame your thinking about quarantine and social distancing from negative to positive. Realizing that your actions are keeping you, your family and your community stay healthy can be very empowering.
  • Keep an open dialogue. It’s okay to let children vent, but through positive, reassuring conversations with your loved ones, you can build trusting relationships.  
  • Stay connected. Although you may be physically separated from family and friends, you can be emotionally connected through emails, texts, phone calls and FaceTime. This is a very good time to foster and strengthen relationships.

Although following these tips can help many people manage mental health conditions, everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. If you would like to schedule a private visit with a licensed mental health specialist, download the free Baptist Health Care On Demand app or visit BaptistHealth.net/CareOnDemand. Use code WELLBEING to get $10 off your consultation, valid through December 31, 2020.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 13 hospitals, more than 23,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 100 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.