Advice from DOH Deputy Director of Behavioral Health Edward Mersereau
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the constant news about COVID-19 and its threat to our communities? You’re not alone. We asked Edward Mersereau, deputy director of behavioral health for the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), to share some tips on maintaining our mental and emotional health during this time.
Mersereau is an expert on stress management, with a career in counseling and clinical social work spanning more than 25 years. He says social isolation doesn’t have to mean emotional isolation; there are ways to care for yourself and others while practicing social distancing. Here are Mersereau’s valuable tips.
- Keep things in perspective
While it’s important to stay informed, try to limit your intake of news about the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a break from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Refocus on fun, engaging activities, games or crafts. And share your feelings, worries and concerns with others to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Use technology
We live in a time of amazing technology allowing us to stay personally connected without in-person, physical meetings. Take time from your day to call loved ones you would normally visit with in-person. Virtual, online meetings with friends and family are a great way to see and talk with them.
- Keep the faith, stay in touch
Although Gov. Ige has advised limiting gatherings at houses of worship, faith communities can set up phone trees to maintain contact with others who are staying at home, especially seniors and congregation members who are more vulnerable going out into the public. Offer to call and chat with others in your congregation.
- Stay active
Exercise is critical not only for our physical health, but also our mental health. Reconnect with nature. Go for walks, hikes and runs outside while maintaining social distancing. Take a moment to enjoy the calm and fresh air.
- Reach out for support
The DOH has expanded the services of its 24-hour Crisis Line of Hawaii to support residents who may be anxious or worried as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Call 1 (800) 753-6879, or text the word ALOHA to 741741. Staff are ready to take your call 24/7.