I feel: sad, frustrated, angry, anxious, depressed, unsure, afraid, annoyed and upset.

These are all words and direct emotions that I’m sure we all can testify to feeling or being effected by over the past several weeks. As a healthcare worker and first time expectant mom, I’ve shared in many of the above myself. The ongoing coronavirus crisis has impacted all of us, but each in a unique way.

Many have been unable to work, many have lost their jobs and many continue to work as they are deemed essential workers but now are facing very different work conditions. Aside from our professional roles, our personal roles have been directly impacted as well. Parents are now also full-time teachers, graduating students lack the traditional ceremonies that they have worked years towards, expectant parents face very different pregnancy and birth journeys than they had originally planned, those who have lost loved ones are not able to honor them with a traditional funeral service, and many have postponed long awaited celebrations. Our worlds have been turned upside down at all levels. We are no longer in control of certain aspects of our day to day lives.

Mental health is an area that I feel, as a society, we tend to not discuss as openly and as non-judgmentally as we should. In light of the ongoing pandemic crisis, for many it has taken an even further backseat in their level of importance. Suicide remains one of most common causes of death in the US. Globally, every 40 seconds someone dies from a suicide. Though over more recent years, we are making strides toward mental health promotion and awareness, our progress is not enough! As a society we need to all be more aware of the impact and effect that our own mental health plays in our day to day actions. I strongly feel that now more than ever we should embrace and be more aware of resources and actions to promote our overall mental well-being.

The first thing I will say about being aware of our emotions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, is to allow yourself grace, time to process how you feel and time to grieve. We all are facing unique difficulties and what some may feel troubled by others do not, and that is OK! As with processing any cycle of grief we need to ask ourselves, “OK this is how I feel, now what?” As I’ve mentioned, we all are feeling differently as we all have our own unique circumstances. First and foremost, be aware that there is no shame or negative stigma associated with how you feel, know that it is okay to seek professional help if you need to. Those who feel debilitated or unsure of how they are feeling should be encouraged to talk to their health care provider.

We have a wonderful wealth of resources available for counseling and psychiatric care in our local area. There are counseling services available in many towns in McKean and Potter counties, many of which are offering counseling services to be completed remotely via video or phone calls. Many primary care offices are offering video and phone visit options as well.

Additionally, there are many things you can do to help yourself remain grounded during these uncertain times. Find joy in an activity or hobby. This varies from person to person but we all have something that brings us joy. This may range from listening to music, journaling, reading, or spending time outdoors to get fresh air. In keeping with social distancing, many communities continue to have their walking trails open or have availability to walk around town for means of exercise. Exercise is one of the most readily available forms of therapy that we can do for ourselves. We all vary in what we can physically do, but we all have the means to do something with the resources that we have. I encourage you to work with your health care team to discuss good options for exercise that may be the right fit for you.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, I would urge you to utilize the crisis prevention phone number: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Below are a few of the local resources for mental health services in our area. I also encourage you to reach out to your primary care provider for additional resources that they may be able to offer you.

In the upcoming weeks and months, I urge you to frequently check in with yourself about how you’re feeling and what measures you can do to promote wellness in your day to day. As one of my favorite authors often has said-

“We have control over two things in this world-our attitude and our effort.” — Rachel Hollis.

I encourage you to try to remain positive, seek joy in your day to day new “normal” and not to be afraid to seek professional help when you need it!

Dickinson Mental Health Center: dickinsoncenter.org, 877-364-2178

The Guidance Center: guidancecenter.net/locations/

  • Bradford office: 814-362-5426
  • Coudersport office: 814-274-7011
  • Kane office: 814-837-5148 or 814-837-5156
  • Smethport Office: 814-887-9344

UPMC Cole has non-crisis mental health therapy available by appointment in Coudersport, Port Allegany, Shinglehouse and Emporium and via telehealth from patient’s home/office. To schedule an appointment call 814-260-5681.

The following are crisis resources that are available in our local area.

Crisis Services:

  • Cameron/Elk County: 1-800-652-0560
  • McKean County: 1-800-459-6568 or 814-362-4623
  • Potter County: 814-274-8651, press 1 for crisis (Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. -5 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.) OR 1-877-724-7142 (after hours and weekends)
  • Tioga County: 1-877-724-7142

Kristy Clark, MSN, CRNP, FNP-BC, is a nurse practitioner at UPMC Cole.