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Mental health experts say to physically distance, not social distance

Posted at 7:42 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 08:42:33-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Kim Foundation held a virtual panel to discuss mental health and suicide prevention during COVID 19. The pandemic has caused many people to struggle with their mental health and the need for resources is at a high.

"Let’s not neglect the fact we’ve also been surrounded by a lot of death and a lot of grief. That has been extremely difficult for people," Sangeetha A. Kumar, Assistant Director for Student Care and Outreach for Creighton University's Student Counseling Services said.

While the pandemic has caused a lot of isolation, the Omaha community has actually seen an overall decrease in deaths by suicide this year, but there has been an increase in deaths by suicide in the youth, ages 19 and under.

"While our overall numbers are down, our youth suicide rate is double where we were last year and we are higher than any year we’ve seen since we started collecting this data in youth deaths," Julia Hebenstreit, executive director of the Kim Foundation said.

Experts with the Kim Foundation say they like to use the term physically distance instead of social distance when it comes to staying safe during COVID 19. Physically distancing still allows for connection and social engagement.

"Talk to your friends, keep those levels of connection, stay engaged, keep a schedule if that works for you," Jessica Frenzen, a counselor with Clearwater Counseling and a panelist said.

Experts also say to have conversations with your loved ones about their mental health even if it's difficult or awkward. Another suggestion to help boost mental health is to keep a schedule.

Tim Hron, a mental health therapist with CHI Health said having structure can allow you to feel in control, even when we can't control the world around us.