Dr. Jennifer Sullivan

During Gov. Eric Holcomb's Dec. 30 COVID-19 update, Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said to connect with others is critical.

Social distancing and face masks — while helping to keep us physically healthy — in many cases, distance us from the relationships and social gatherings that help to keep us mentally healthy.

Operation Warp Speed facilitated and accelerated the COVID-19 vaccines that will help us to return to some sense of “normal.” But no vaccine has been developed to protect our mental health.

We need to work together on that, focusing first on ourselves.

People — as they are able — should be involved in mental health self care.

During Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Dec. 30 COVID-19 update, Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, gave mental health information that needs to reach a wide audience during 2021. (A direct link to the video of her talk on Youtube is attached to this article online at kpcnews.com.)

The following are highlights from Sullivan’s talk.

“We encourage all to develop a strategy of mental health self care,” she said. “To connect with others is critical, even if it’s through phone calls, Facetime, snapchat or the old-fashioned letter — each of us should commit to connect. Even if you don’t feel like you need to connect, the people you would be connecting with probably do.

“One of the things I started to do early in the pandemic days was writing a card or a postcard to one person almost every day. It helped me remember how grateful I am for the people in my life, far and wide. I’m on my 10th book of stamps.

“But also I did not come up with that on my own,” she said, pausing to clear her throat.

“If you are alone, take time for some quiet, turn down the lights and take deep breaths. Try to focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.

“It’s also important to remember that for some of us, self care may not be enough. Go to bewellindiana.org. Watch the videos from mental health professionals about things like managing crises, recognizing depression, or helping kids cope with the challenges of COVID-19. You can also connect to treatment resources. Call the Be Well Crisis Helpline. To do this call 2-1-1 and after entering your zip code follow the prompts to reach the Be Well Crisis Hotline. You can also connect with the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

“Don’t forget to talk to your primary care physician who cares about you, too.

“Please realize that it is OK to reach out for help and help others around you to reach out to these resources, too. Know that it is OK not to be OK. The stigma surrounding mental health needs can keep us from the help we need but we can overcome that too, together.”

At kpcnews.com a new poll asks, “What are you doing more of to aid your mental health?” Go to kpcnews.com/polls. Of the six choices, so far the leader is “Avoiding negative news/people.”

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