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How to bring up COVID-19-related mental health issues with friends and family

Normalizing mental health conversations
Posted at 6:42 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 19:57:45-04

OMAHA, Neb. — COVID-19 has changed the way we communicate. So it may be tough to identify when a friend or loved one is going through a difficult time. But it doesn't mean that we shouldn't try. Mental health issues are skyrocketing across the country in the wake of the pandemic.

"People think... we don't have to think about it and everything will be okay. But that can be very dangerous," marriage and family therapist with Associated Counseling Professionals Julie Jurich said.

Gone are the days of catching up with friends at sporting events or driving your kids home from school and catching up on their day. Now it's time to get creative about how we check in with our loved ones.

WEB EXTRA: Hear more from Julie Jurich, licensed marriage and family therapist

Extended clip: Julie Jurich, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

For parents the key is observing any changes within their kids and being open to communication and conversation. Family game nights and dinners could be the new way to check up.

Signs that friends or family members may be going through tough times mentally include having withdrawals, experiencing mood changes and agitation, having a hopeless world outlook. or changes in personality or exercise.

"And if you notice that I think it's important that we ask a person 'I've noticed that you're not as active as you used to be, are you doing okay,'" DHHS behavioral health director Sheri Dawson said.

Even though you may not be able to check up on someone in person, try and make the effort to do it in other ways.

"Let's say you used to call your mother or grandmother once a week. Make it more frequent," Dawson added.

WEB EXTRA: Hear more from Sherri Dawson, Behavorial Health Director for DHHS.

Extended clip: Sheri Dawson - Behavioral Health Director for DHHS

Talking sometimes is the best help, but if someone is going through something more serious, call a helpline or suggest professional help.

The Nebraska Family Helpline - 1-888-866-8660

· SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Hotline -1-800-985-5990

· The Nebraska Rural Response Hotline - 1-800-464-0258

· The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255