We are currently facing an unprecedented public health crisis, with the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) across numerous countries and in our local communities in Colorado.
The role our mental health plays is incredibly important in times like these. Feelings of anxiety, stress, and worry about what’s to come are natural reactions to what we are experiencing.
As the community mental health center serving the Front Range for over 60 years, we’ve experienced many crisis situations and are dedicated to supporting you and your mental health during this unprecedented time.
Public Health Departments are appropriately calling for “social distancing” (defined as maintaining a distance of at least six feet, as well as avoiding public transportation, limiting travel, working from home, and skipping social engagements) as the best way to reduce transmission and slow the spread of COVID-19.
The community, businesses, political leaders, and event organizers are all pulling together to do their part to support these public health efforts. Businesses are temporarily closing or having employees work remotely, and many individuals and families are staying home, canceling vacations and avoiding social gatherings.
Few of us will be able to avoid the significant impact that this has, whether on our own health, the health and wellbeing of our families, our financial stability, or the increased worry and anxiety about the unpredictable nature of this epidemic and how long this might affect our daily lives.
For some, this will be seen as a temporary disruption or burden in their lives, perhaps reframed as a time to slow down and connect with immediate family at home. For others, it jeopardizes the critical social connection and support that they rely on for their mental and emotional wellbeing.
And for people with mental health disorders or addictions, this disruption to the daily structure and the support system they have built may feel completely overwhelming.
We have become more and more attuned in the past few years to the critical importance of social connectedness to our mental and physical wellbeing. Mounting research shows that social connectedness as a basic need can be just as important to health as food and shelter. A lack of social connection leads to higher rates of anxiety, depression, aggression and violence, and additionally, has a larger impact on physical health and mortality than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure combined.
The challenge I have faced over the past week, as we make business decisions that impact our clients, staff, and community is how do we support social connectedness for those who need it most, while doing what we need to do to practice effective social distancing?
There is no perfect or easy answer to this question. So, as we work diligently to balance meeting the most critical needs of our clients and communities while implementing as much social distancing as possible, I also ask for your help.
If you are reading this, please do what you can to take that extra step to engage and connect with others, particularly those who you know need it most. Make the phone call you have been meaning to make, offer child care to a friend who is needing to work, smile at others when you go out to walk the dog, or send an encouraging message to let someone know you are there.
With many of us going online to get the latest information, we have an opportunity to promote helpful resources that are available. Some excellent resources to support those struggling with mental health disorders and addictions include this guide from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and this resource site from Mental Health America and Shine.
Currently, Jefferson Center is maintaining critical services for those in most need, including our 24/7 crisis services. We will be making some changes to our non-urgent services to offer care by telephone or video chat and we have canceled all groups and classes for the time being. How we offer our services will continue to evolve over the next few days and weeks, and we will keep you updated as this changes via email, our website, and our social media sites.
Most importantly, if you or someone close to you needs to talk to someone, call Jefferson Center at 303-425-0300 or call the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255, 24/7.
As a community, we will get through this, but there will be tough times ahead. We will continue serving our community and making mental health accessible to all. As always, thank you for your continued trust during this time.
Dr. Kiara Kuenzler, CEO, Jefferson Center