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Give me mental health 

As countries introduce travel restrictions to reduce the number of people infected by COVID-19, more and more people are making major changes to their daily lives.

It takes time to adjust to the new reality of working from home, being temporarily unemployed, raising children at home, and having no physical contact with other family members, friends, and colleagues. It is difficult for everyone to adapt to these lifestyle changes, cope with the fear of contracting the virus, and worry about loved ones who are particularly vulnerable. These changes can be particularly difficult for people with mental health problems.

Fortunately, there are many ways to take care of your own mental health and to help others who may need extra support and help.

Give me mental health

Taking care of mental health

Here are some tips and tricks that I hope you will find useful:

  • Read more. Listen to advice and recommendations from national and local authorities. Follow trusted news outlets, such as local or national TV and radio, and keep up to date with the latest news from @WHO on social media.
  • Establish a routine. As much as possible, keep your daily routine or create a new one. Get up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time.
    • Take care of your personal hygiene.
    • Eat healthy meals at regular intervals.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Find time for work and time for rest.
    • Make time for activities that you enjoy.
  • Minimize the flow of information. Try to watch, read or listen to less news that causes you stress or anxiety. Check the latest news at certain times of the day, once or twice a day if necessary. 
  • Social contacts are important. If you have mobility limitations, keep in regular contact with your loved ones by phone or internet.
  • Use of alcohol or drugs. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or refrain from drinking altogether. Do not start drinking alcohol if you have never done so before. Avoid using alcohol or drugs to cope with anxiety, worry, boredom, or social isolation.   
    There is no evidence that alcohol has a protective effect against viral or other infections. In fact, the opposite is true: harmful alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of infections and poorer treatment outcomes.
    Also be aware that alcohol and drug abuse can prevent you from taking appropriate measures to protect yourself against infections, such as hand hygiene.
  • Screen time. Check how much time you spend in front of a screen each day. Make sure you take regular breaks from the screen.
  • Video games. Video games can be a great way to relax, but when you're home for long periods, you may be tempted to play them more than usual. Find the right balance by making offline activities part of your daily routine.
  • Social networking. Use your social media to spread positive and hopeful stories. Correct inaccurate information when you see it.
  • Help others. If you can, offer your support to people around you who need it, for example by helping them shop.
  • Support health professionals. Take the opportunity online or in your community to thank the health professionals in your country and everyone involved in the COVID-19 initiative. 

 Avoiding discrimination

Fear is a normal reaction to uncertain situations. But sometimes fear is expressed in a way that can harm others. Remember the following messages: 

  • Compassion. Do not discriminate against people out of fear of spreading COVID-19.
  • Do not discriminate against people who you believe may be infected with the coronavirus.
  • Do not discriminate against health care workers. They deserve our respect and gratitude.
  • COVID-19 has infected people in many different countries. Do not attribute it to any particular group.

For parents

When under pressure, children often seek more attention from you.

What you can do:

  • Maintain family routines as much as possible or create new ones, especially if you have to stay home.
  • Talk about the new coronavirus with your children in an honest and age-appropriate way.
  • Help your children learn at home and make sure there is time for play.
  • Help children find positive ways to express emotions such as fear and sadness. Sometimes a creative activity, such as a game or drawing, can help with this process.
  • Help children to keep in touch with their friends and family by phone or internet.
  • Make sure your children have daily screen-free time and do offline activities together. Do something creative: draw a picture, write a poem, make something. Bake cookies. Sing or dance or play in the garden, if you have a garden.
  • Try not to let your children play video games more than usual.

For older people

  • Keep in regular contact with your loved ones, for example by phone, email, social networking, or video conferencing.
  • As much as possible, maintain a regular routine and a schedule for eating, sleeping, and activities that you enjoy.
  • Learn to do simple daily physical exercises at home during your quarantine to maintain your mobility.
  • Learn how you can get practical help when you need it, such as finding a taxi, ordering food, or going to the doctor. Make sure you have at least a monthly supply of your usual medicines. If necessary, ask family, friends, or neighbors for help.

For people with mental health problems

  • If you are being treated for a mental health problem, make sure you continue to take your medicines as prescribed and that you have a way to extend them. If you are seeing a mental health professional, ask how you can continue to get this support during the outbreak.
  • Keep in touch with the people supporting you and find out who to contact if your mental health deteriorates.
  • If you are being treated for a substance use disorder, be aware that COVID-19 can lead to increased feelings of fear, anxiety, and isolation, which can increase your risk of relapse, substance use, treatment discontinuation, or non-compliance with treatment regimens. Make sure you continue to take your medication as prescribed, especially if you are taking opioids such as methadone or buprenorphine, and that you have a way to take your medication regularly. If you are receiving support from a psychologist or support group, find out how you can continue to receive it during the outbreak.
  • If you are being treated for a video game disorder or addiction, continue treatment if possible. Talk to your therapist or health care professional about how best to continue treatment while you are confined to your home.


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