LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although Mental Health Awareness Month officially ended on Sunday, the Livingston Health Department recognizes that the COVID-19 outbreak “has been universally stressful” and that it is “as important as ever” for residents to take care of heir mental health.
According to the LHD, the longer-term nature of the outbreak “has meant significant changes to long-held routines and behaviors.” In addition to the fact that the word “pandemic” itself creates anxiety, the LHD also noted that “many are struggling to find balance” with the added stress of certain protocols such as needing to wear masks in public and to continuing to stay apart from friends and relatives.
“Certainly during the pandemic, these stay-at-home orders have affected different people in different ways, so it’s critical to also have resources available to people who have been impacted mentally, but I also think mental health awareness is a 12-month a year, 365-day issue,” said Mayor Rudy Fernandez. “It’s important today, it was important yesterday and it’ll be important tomorrow. Whether it’s January, June or December of any particular year, it’s incredibly important that we have these resources available to anybody that may need them.”
In order to help Livingston residents reduce stress levels, support their own mental health and help their families to do the same, the LHD recently shared various resources
Resources for Children and Families
The following are free, downloadable resources to help parents communicate with kids about COVID-19.
- COVID-19 for Kids: Conversation Tips About COVID-19 for Each Grade Level (PDF) – presented by the National Association of School Psychologists
- Stayin’ Alive: Spread the Word, Not the Virus (PDF) – Summary of illness prevention & presentation and prep checklist
- We’re Going to Be OK (PDF) -- Children’s book with tips & advice by Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton & Dr. Leigh-Ann Webb, illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin Webb
- Health Emergencies: Sesame Street- Various resources and information for children and parents related to COVID-19. Activities for children as well.
Bereavement Support Groups
The following resources have been established for those who have experienced the death of a loved one during the pandemic.
- NJ 2-1-1 General Bereavement Support Groups
- Atlantic Health System – Coronavirus Grief and Loss Support Group: Wednesdays, 12 pm – 1 pm, starting April 22, 2020. Meetings are virtual, via Zoom. To register call 862-260-3199 and press option 3. You will need to provide an email address to receive an invitation for the Zoom meeting.
- Jewish Family Service is offering a bereavement support group for seniors who have lost a loved one because of COVID-19. It is being held virtually via Zoom, and the phone number to sign up is 973-765-9050. This group is open to everyone, regardless of their religion
Resources for Living with Existing Mental Illness
The following resources were shared for those living with existing mental illness who may find their conditions worsening during this time.
- COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide (PDF) from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook (PDF) from The Wellness Society
The health department also provided the following links for additional resources.
- Stress and Coping with COVID-19 (CDC) – Ways to cope with stress related to COVID-19.
- Mental Health and COVID-19 (Mental Health America) – Information and resources for different needs and groups.
- COVID-19 and Your Mental Health (Mayo Clinic) – Self-care strategies and suggestions for getting help when you need it.
- Talking with Children and Teens about COVID-19 (CDC) – Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children.
- Family Health & Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic (NJ American Academy of Pediatrics) – Resources for parents and children, including parenting, education, and basic needs.
- 2-1-1 New Jersey Mental Health Resources – Available resources and information.
- How to Handle Coronavirus (Crisis Text Line) – Advice and tips for students, parents, healthcare workers, those experiencing financial stress and anyone struggling with isolation.
More information and resources for all individuals, including children and veterans, who are in crisis situations or experiencing stress can be found here.
Anyone who is or knows someone in crisis is urged to call 9-1-1, text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line, or call/text one of the lines listed here.