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Beware of Any Worsening Mental Health Symptoms

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“With COVID-19 we already face significantly increasing rates of emotional distress among vulnerable populations,” states Schmidt, Sandy Hook LPC.

    NEWTOWN, CT, September 09, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ — Every September during National Preparedness Month, it is important to get ready for potential disasters–putting together an emergency kit or equipping the house for a potential storm. This year COVID-19, one of the worst calamities ever, is already raging. The pandemic is not only taking its physical toll with a horrendous number of people infected and dying. Scores of people are also suffering emotionally from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and trauma. “These symptoms of a potential mental health problem can’t be ignored,” warns Bob Schmidt, a Licensed Professional Counselor from Sandy Hook, Connecticut, whose community experienced the psychological impact of a tragedy firsthand. “In many cases, mental health issues will only become worse over time if ignored.”

Schmidt, who recently co-authored the book “Disaster Mental Health Community Planning” with mental health advocate Sharon L. Cohen, explains that in a typical disaster, most people who suffer from anxiety or stress are helped with wellness activities, such as yoga or meditation. Another smaller group, who are the most at risk, suffer from acute stress and will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if not adequately treated. COVID-19, with its widespread and long-term impact, has worsened such reactions.

“We already face significantly increasing rates of emotional distress among vulnerable populations such as the poor and economically struggling, Frontline medical workers, young adults, COVID survivors, and the mentally ill,” states Schmidt. “We will be dealing with a mental health crisis in the near future if not taking action now.”

To prepare for potential mental health problems, people should be alert for emotional changes in themselves and others such as increased irritability, loss of appetite, and sleeping problems, as well as more reliance on alcohol and other drugs. They need to seek immediate help from a trauma-informed counselor. Anyone with suicidal thoughts should not be ashamed to ask a friend or family member for a ride to urgent care or to call a suicide hotline number or 911.

“These are very stressful times,” adds Cohen. “We must take immediate steps to help ourselves and others to relieve our emotional suffering before it becomes overwhelming.”

In addition, communities need to implement mental health programs to help their most at-risk residents. Employers and schools must address potential emotional issues with employees and students. Rehab centers and elder-care facilities should also develop mental health response plans

“We are facing the possibility of a long-term mental healthcare epidemic,” concludes Schmidt. “It’s imperative to take action today for a healthier tomorrow.”

For more information on disaster mental health, see www.disastermentalhealthplan.com.

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Robert Schmidt and Sharon L. Cohen published “Disaster Mental Health Community Planning” with Routledge because they recognized how most communities are prepared to respond to the medical and structural problems associated with disasters, but not to the psychological impact. In many cases, survivors can suffer from acute stress and truma for many years if not receiving the care needed. The book provides a roadmap on how to collaboratively develop a disaster psychological intervention plan that provides immediate mental healthcare for long-term treatment. The book has received positive reviews from communities and practitioners.

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