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MHRB urges workers struggling with stress during COVID-19 to seek care


SPRINGFIELD — Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties (MHRB) wants stressed-out workers to know: You are not alone.

As Ohio businesses are able to reopen this month, some workers are experiencing tension over whether to go back to work or stay safely at home, on top of existing pandemic-related stressors like unemployment, lack of childcare, and lack of social interaction. Especially in industries like hospitality where customer contact is essential, possible exposure to COVID-19 despite stringent protective methods are causing feelings of anxiety and stress.

But it’s not just restaurant and service workers feeling the pressure.

“In the healthcare and behavioral health industries, we are on the frontline helping everyone else cope with increased levels of stress, worry, and fatigue. We cannot forget that as hospital and public healthcare workers, psychiatrists, therapists and other care providers, we might be struggling with overwhelming stress in our own lives as well,” said Greta Mayer, CEO of MHRB. “Self-care is increasingly important during this time. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and self-awareness.”

According to a workplace mental health study released by Ginger, 69 percent of workers across all ages indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic was the most stressful time of their entire professional career, including major events like the September 11 terror attacks, the 2008 Great Recession and others.

“It was difficult enough to manage stress before the pandemic. COVID-19 introduced and exacerbated stress in areas of our lives where we might not have experienced it before,” Mayer said. “Suddenly, it may feel like your brain isn’t working in the same way and the smallest decisions can feel almost insurmountable. Our normal methods of dealing with stress may not be sufficient. That’s why MHRB exists, to connect everybody and every family to quality mental health and substance use services they need in order to cope with stress in a healthy way. This includes our returning workers and their families.”

Mayer encourages anyone struggling with stress to take advantage of immediate help provided through these crisis resources:

• COVID-19 Careline: 1-800-720-9616

• Ohio Crisis Text Line: Text “4HOPE” to 741-741

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8245)

• Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990, or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 for English or “Hablanos” to 66746 for Spanish, Deaf/Hard of Hearing TTY 1-800-846-8517

• Call United Way’s help line by dialing 211

MHRB contract care providers are open during the shutdown and all have transitioned their services to meet the needs of isolated community members and those in quarantine. For example, several providers are offering telehealth services and online support groups. Workers in Clark, Greene and Madison counties can access brief and ongoing mental health and addiction support locally. Because of MHRB, the following resources offer both affordable and free help:

• Mental Health Services for Clark and Madison Counties, www.mhscc.org

• The Hope Spot, www.facebook.com/thehopespotofgreenecounty/

• FOA Bridge of Support, www.facebook.com/foabridgeofsupport/

• TCN Behavioral Health Services, www.tcn.org

• McKinley Hall, www.mckinleyhall.org

• Thrive Peer Support, www.thrivepeersupport.org

• NAMI Clark Greene Madison Counties, www.namicgm.org

Kelly Rigger, CEO of Mental Health Services for Clark & Madison Counties, Inc., also offered some advice for workers.

“To manage your stress, get information from trusted sources (such as the state of Ohio’s coronavirus website, coronavirus.ohio.gov), limit media exposure, eat healthy foods and exercise to boost your immune system,” Rigger said. “Stay in touch with friends and loved ones and keep participating in hobbies and activities that you enjoy. Call a mental health expert if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row, and don’t wait to ask for help.”

Rigger shared that the current economic environment has also impacted many healthcare workers.

“For the first time, they may need help with food, utilities, and ways to meet basic needs,” Rigger added. “We’re exploring ways to provide more options in Clark and Madison counties.”

“The most important thing to remember is that we are all experiencing varying levels of stress. It is never a bad time to explore healthy ways to cope or seek clinical consultation from a professional, even if you yourself are a professional,” said Mayer. “Telehealth may create a level of anonymity and comfort for workers who want to seek help and may be concerned about keeping this confidential within their own community.”

For more information about mental health and substance use resources in Clark, Greene and Madison counties, readers should visit www.mhrb.org. Workers should contact MHRB at 937-322-0648 or www.mhrb.org/contact if they experience barriers to accessing help.

Workers in customer-centric industries face increased stress as businesses reopen