LANSING, MI - On Thursday, April 9, Michigan’s 68th House District Representative Sarah Anthony hosted her first virtual town hall meeting on social media.
The event went live at 5pm and was open to the public to learn strategies on coping with depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order. Rep. Anthony feels that there has not been a lot of interaction with community mental health space and thought it was important to lay the foundation of what we have. Two mental health experts were also in attendance, Sara Lurie, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties and Danielle Moore, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Mental Health Therapist and CEO of Refresh Wellness Center, to help us better understand the impact this crisis has on our mental health.
Sara Lurie shared some information, “Behavioral health is definitely recognized as an essential service provider, and considered really important of our overall healthcare system. This county based system is important because it's responsive to local needs such as what we’re dealing with right now, locally and nationally."
Rep. Anthony feels that there has not been a lot of interaction with community mental health space and thought it was important to lay the foundation of what we have.
Danielle Moore addressed that she has seen this expectation that people need to perform or produce like we're not in a time of crisis or a pandemic. Moore says, “Just being able to allow people to feel their feelings and acknowledge their experience. We're in a global pandemic and has impacted in some way, shape, or form directly or indirectly. Allowing people to have space and have their feelings to be confused, or be upset, stressed, and angry is the first thing. We are in a state of crisis and it is normal to feel that way about that.”
Moore stated, “That is half the battle and once you're able to sit with those feelings, people can start to think about what to do next and where to go from here. It’s hard to do right now because these are uncertain times. Hold space for people if you can and don’t minimize that they’re also experiencing something. One of the interesting things is the people you would normally talk to and trust may not have the capacity to support you right now because they are in crisis. Everyone’s in a crisis. It’s important that mental health professionals to step up and be available to limit barriers to accessible resources for people who are insured, under-insured, and people who have good insurance and can afford to pay out of pocket. We just want to do everything we can to limit barriers in mental health services.”
Rep. Anthony discussed grief during social distancing and asked both mental health experts on advice in a time of isolation. Danielle Moore brought to everyone’s attention many social media platforms that are free to use such as Zoom, Google Hangout, and FaceTime. Moore says, “Anything you can do to see anyone else’s face and communicate with them is going to be the next best thing to in-person. One of the saddest things is to see is that COVID-19 patients are dying alone and not allowed to have family members with them. If a person comes in and has has symptoms, they're immediately put into isolation and aren’t allowed to have any visitors or support people in the room with you.”
“It is important that you are connecting, calling, and hearing other peoples voices, because being able to be close to people is significantly impacting in regard to helping people not have a complete meltdown. Anything you can do to support someone that is in isolation, especially elderly people. If you can go grocery shop for them so they aren’t out in the community, even simple tasks like pickup their mail and take it to their door because some of them can’t get outside. Some of those things are important to stay connected and support people during this time,” says Moore.
Sara Lurie added to what was discussed by Moore and says, “As much as parents can do to help their children, especially their older children, to stay connected with peers in safe ways, I think is important. Anything you can do to also engage in other adults who care about the children with interactions, whether it’s virtual family gatherings or where other family members can offer their love and support.” Lurie also says, “Being able to go outdoors is great, that’s good for people’s mental health to do that.”
Rep. Anthony thanked everyone for participating in the live event, as well as both of her guests and hopes that everyone found the information helpful and will continue to share as many resources as possible. This is an unprecedented time. Check in on yourself, lean on your friends, neighbors, and families during this tough time.