ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — University of Rochester Medical Center officials say social distancing and isolation during the pandemic are having an effect on flattening the curve of COVID-19, but with that comes an impact on mental health as adults and children adopt this “new normal” into their lives.
Dr. Yeates Conwell and Dr. Caroline Silva discussed the important of taking care of your mental health along with your physical health.
“Social distancing is physically distancing but not necessarily a lack of connection with other people so if we can plan for that we’ll be better off,” Silva said. “What kind of behaviors can you engage in even in our circumstances that will help you? is that making more phone calls? Is that zoom chats?”
Silva encouraged trying things like mindfulness, self soothing, meditation and new practices during these unfamiliar time of isolation.
In one way or another the virus is affecting everyone and causing stress wether that’s losing a job, facing isolation, the fear of getting sick or more. However, one group of people facing a different kind of stress is the health care providers that are seeing COVID-19 in action everyday.
“We’re very sensitive to that, certainly in the Department of Psychiatry,” Conwell said. “That’s part of what we see as our job is supporting all the workforce within URMC and beyond our walls. We do have a number of programs specifically in place for that kind of support.”
Conwell added that he feels the stigma with mental health and the impact of the job has reduced. He said he feels mental health is just part of the conversation now.
While COVID-19 has forced a lot of the day-to-day to change, Conwell said not all of the changes are bad.
“Maybe thats one of the silver linings in a way in this crisis, it’s really propelled us forward to deliver more and more services remotely.”
Conwell said for some patients, leaving their home, driving to the facility and finding parking can be the thing that stops them or slows the process of getting help but telemedicine can help bring services right to the patients in their own home.
“Being able to actually see the provider in your own home is a very special and meaningful experience so it’s really been a positive kind of change that we’re hoping will be sustained over the long haul.”
Since schools closed and nonessential businesses, many are adjusting to being home, together all the time. Many working parents have expressed concern over not making enough time for their children who may be bored at home. Other shared it’s tough to not feel overwhelmed when there’s no break from any of it.
“One thing that I thought about with families is sort of what a new normal is,” Silva said. “A lot of times kids flourish — adults do too — when we establish routines so sometimes it isn’t about being able to do it all, but being able to do it consistently.”
She added that routines can be really helpful to the overall well-being and help set expectations for the family.
“A lot of those feelings are natural and normal in an abnormal situation and taking a sliver of your time to promote your own self care will help.”