County health officials discuss mental health challenges of pandemic

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended life for families and communities across the West Valley. While thousands have been sickened and dozens have died, residents are facing unprecedented challenges.

All of this is causing real harm on mental health and wellness. As residents to their part to curb the spread of the deadly virus, county officials ask that they also care for mental health and wellness.

“During this pandemic it’s common, and it’s okay, to be feeling a whole range of feelings from anxiety and fear to hopeless and even frustration and anger,” said Mego Lien of the Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Department.

May is mental health awareness month, a time to identify and practice strategies that will help improve wellbeing.

During one of its tri-weekly updates, county health staffers discussed mental health challenges many are facing, and identified some strategies and resources.

Dr. Rachel Talamantez, also with the County’s Behavioral Health Department, noted that each person is dealing with the crisis in their own way.

“Everybody has their own unique and individual response,” Talamantez said.

She identified a number of county resources – for food, shelter, substance abuse support, and mental and physical health. All are available by referral by calling 2-1-1 in the Bay Area.

“It’s really important to be connected.”

Talamantez also encouraged residents to put together stress plans. These plans should be focused around being “present, attuned, and responsive. She recommended identifying ways to maintain calm, be it exercise, music, books, or other tools.

Staying emotionally connected, over email, phone calls, or letter writing, is also a way to support mental wellness.

County resources:

  • To access information on County services, call 2-1-1
  • For county mental health services, crisis information, or general service referrals, call 1-800-704-0900
  • For substance abuse response services, call 1-900-488-9919
  • If you or a loved one is in crisis, or may self-harm, call the suicide and crisis hotline at 1-855-278-4202 or text RENEW to 741741.