Friday, April 24, 2020

COVID-19 brings with it an ocean of emotions

By the Office of Behavioral Health Prevention Team

During these uncertain times, heightened stress levels and increased anxiety are typical for some. COVID-19 has forced everyone to adjust to a “new normal,” making us change the way we interact with loved ones, friends and even co-workers, through physical distancing, staying at home and even self-isolation.

We’re all in this “new normal” boat together. When you feel like you’re adrift in self-isolation and physical distancing, the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health is here to help you stay afloat. Here are a few things to pack away in your mental health toolkit.

I’m feeling overwhelmed with stress, uncertainty, fear or anxiety. Is there someone I can talk to?

These are all normal responses to an uncertain or threatening event. You can call the Keep Calm through COVID line at 1-866-310-7977. This phone line is available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. The Keep Calm through COVID line connects you to trained, compassionate counselors who can offer support and who can direct you to mental health and substance use counseling services.

Stress is inevitable, but I really need a way to let go of some steam. Will drinking alcohol help to ease some of this stress and anxiety? 

Alcohol is addictive and can be toxic. In higher amounts or when consumed with certain medications or by those with certain health conditions, relying on alcohol to relieve stress is not advised. Instead, use other stress reduction techniques and practices like exercise (as approved by your doctor), getting enough sleep (about eight hours a night for most adults), and relaxation techniques like meditation/mindfulness and structure-breathing exercises, listening to calming music, reading, etc.

I am in recovery, but this event is difficult to deal with. During this COVID-19 event, what are some ways I can stay above the influence? 

Especially during times such as these, experiencing high stress levels and increasing anxiety is common, and maintaining sobriety can be challenging. Here are some helpful tools you can use to help you cope and maintain your sobriety while practicing the recommended physical distancing: 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Public health workers deserve our thanks

By DR. ALEX BILLIOUX | Assistant Secretary, LDH Office of Public Health

Public health is at the forefront of global attention as the new coronavirus strains healthcare systems around the world. That makes it more appropriate than ever to think about — and thank — our public health workers during National Public Health Week, observed this year April 6-12. Held every April, National Public Health Week honors the countless public health workers who strive daily to help us live happier, healthier and longer lives.

From sanitarians ensuring our food is safe to eat, to the nurses and doctors on the front lines, and from volunteers staffing overflow makeshift hospitals to the highest rungs of government, a complex, interwoven health system is at work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week responding to the COVID-19 crisis here in Louisiana. Our healthcare system at times has been pushed to its limits, thereby asking our public health workers to also push themselves to their limits and then some. It’s not easy. It takes dedication, courage, compassion, adaptability, faith and nerves of steel.

The Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health has 1,446 team members who work throughout the state to ensure the health and safety of all of our state’s residents and guests. Louisianans are lifting up our public health workers as heroes, but at the same time, we mustn’t lose sight of this one important thing: they’re people just like you and me.

They may be feeling anxious, or sad, or fearful, or angry, or other emotions that they may be locking away because they have work to do. For public health workers, it may feel like there’s no time for emotion when they’re racing the clock against a virus that has already claimed more than 755 lives in our state alone.

Our public health workers are stepping out there every day of this pandemic and putting themselves in harm’s way, potentially exposing themselves to the coronavirus. They have a part to play in tracking the spread of the virus, running samples at our state lab around the clock, and working with local emergency leaders to make sure communities across Louisiana are as prepared as possible to respond to this pandemic. It’s a time of high stress, high emotion and little rest.

Yes, public health workers are heroes, but they’re people too. Thank you to all of our public health workers for all that you do — not only during this pandemic, but every day. We see you and we appreciate you.