Mental health expert shares tips for coping with COVID-19 impacts

Expert tips for mental health during COVID-19 lock downs
Posted at 12:21 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 12:21:43-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With the new reality of COVID-19 lock downs, many may feel stressed or overwhelmed by the uncertainty.

Behavioral health experts say the feeling is a normal human reaction.

Dr. Ken Hopper helps similar mental health challenges, but with inmates in confinement.

Specializing in behavioral health for the last 30 years, he now works with a healthcare provider for correctional facilities, like the Collier County Jail.

Dr. Hopper says drastic change paired with confinement can cause a mental quicksand.

People being quarantined to their home during the coronavirus crisis can show similar behavior patterns. To help, it's good to know the signs and manage it before it's too late.

"When something is new, which life throws us all the time, like COVID-19 or getting sentenced to a jail situation, both of those are pretty big curve balls. What can happen is our minds can go wild. In fact, when you treat anxiety it is about being able to stop before passing that first thought," said Dr. Hopper, Chief Behavioral Health Administrator for Armor Health.

Because of the COVID-19 lock downs, Dr. Hopper says we may see more cases of depression and anxiety due to post traumatic stress.

He recommends a few helpful tips, like making tangible goals to stay positive and motivated.

Also, when setting a long term goal, make a road map to celebrate small wins along the way.

Lastly, Dr. Hopper says to avoid the fear-multiplier.

"When they’re starting to get into the what if’s. The what if‘s, that’s really the signal. What if this were to happen? What if that were to happen? That’s a place to have the immediate sense to gain some of these cognitive techniques, like get up and do something," said Dr. Hopper.

In moments of fear and anxiety, he recommends catching the behavior early and changing your perspective. People can do this by focusing on present tasks that help move toward the solution of the problem.

You can also practice a physical and emotional shift to help change your direction of thinking. People can break the train of thought by doing a different activity or hobby to keep your mind busy and productive.

People concerned or unsure about the state of their mental health should alert loved ones and seek help from a medical professional.

For more information, tips, and resources on coping with mental health during COVID-19, click here.