Sugar Land - Missouri City Edition | October 2020

Here are some tips from the National Alliance on Mental Illness for avoiding mental fatigue during uncertain times. Self-care tips

Avoid information overload It is good to stay engaged, but having limits on consumption can help.

diculties. “All those things play a real critical role in mental wellness,” Almeida said. “And they can either be protective factors or they can be risk factors. In the situation we are in now, many of our populations, especially our lower socioeconomic status or those indi- viduals that have already struggled, they’re even struggling more.” Substanceuse While West Oaks Hospital, which treats children, adolescents and adults, has seen a decrease in admissions because of concerns over contracting the virus, people are coming in for treatment after relapsing into drug and alcohol use. “Along with [the stress and uncer- tainty], there can be increased use of substances as a way to cope,” Paxton said. Of the residents in Fort Bend and Harris counties screened by MHA in August, 83% of people likely showed an alcohol or substance use disorder. Ponce said people who struggled with drug or alcohol addiction prior to the coronavirus pandemic need extra supports during this time. “Theproblemis thatpeopleare really relying on [Alcoholics Anonymous] and [Narcotics Anonymous], those sort of meetings,” Ponce said. “With sub- stance abuse, it’s really important to have a community to recover; you can’t really do it on your own. So the fact that it hasn’t been people that are new to substance abuse, it’s people that are relapsing because their community and their structure is gone.” Spencer Walker, a Marine veteran who said he struggled with substance use after returning from Iraq, dedi- cates his time to helping other veter- ans through stress and trauma, legal issues, and drug and alcohol use. “With COVID-19, of course, it has just brought many folks to the brink,

Reaching out for help

Mental Health America of Greater Houston is a nonprot organization founded to address mental health needs and promote overall mental wellness. Services include early intervention, integrated services and support. 713-523-8963. Located in west Houston, West Oaks Hospital is a psychiatric clinic with 160 beds servicing Houston and the surrounding area. The clinic is available 24/7 to assist those in need. 713-995-0909 Fort Bend County Behavioral Health Services is a county department which works to increase awareness and access to mental health services. Additionally, the department works with courts and the criminal justice system to address the needs of people with behavioral health concerns in the legal system. 832-363-7094. www.fortbendcountytx. gov/government/departments/ administration-of-justice/behavioral- health-services Kelsey-Seybold Clinic Behavioral Medicine serves the Greater Houston area and has specialists to discuss treatment plans with individuals who are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed and/or overwhelmed. 713-442-0427 Texana Center is a nonprot organization based in Richmond providing services to people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. Crisis hotline: 800-633-5686. 281-239-1300. The following organizations in Fort Bend County and the Greater Houston area provide mental health services and can refer people to professional help.

• Watching or listening to news constantly can increase stress. Reading can be easier to control how much and what kind of information to consume. • Set limits on when and for how long to consume news and information, including through social media. • False information spreads easily on social media and can have negative eects on public health. Always verify sources before sharing.

Follow healthy daily routines Daily habits can help individuals feel more in control of their well-being. • Make your bed.

• Make time for work breaks. • Practice good hygiene. • Prioritize sleep. • Eat nutrient- rich foods.

• Get dressed. • Connect with people. • Move your body.


especially combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse issues,” said Walker, the immediate former Fort Bend com- munity director with MHA of Greater Houston. Seekinghelp Many mental health experts pointed toward social media and the 24-hour news cycle as having a negative eect on people’s mental well-being. Almeida suggested dedicating set times every day for reading and watch- ing the news so it does not become all consuming. “Information itself can be over- whelming and stressful, and so I always tell people about taking this opportu- nity to quiet the noise around us so we can focus,” Almeida said. Ponce said the same is true for social media. She said putting time limits on her personal social media apps has helped her feel more positive. “It seems like it’s gotten very nega- tive and very news focused on social media,” Ponce said. “People that are just logging on to it think this is most of reality; they think most people are this

negative or this polarized, and really it’s just certain people that are com- menting, but that’s what you see.” Almeida said for people who are experiencing excessive worrying, hypervigilance, diculties sleeping or other expressions of stress, it is import- ant to be intentional about self-care. George Patterson, the CEO of Texana Center, a nonprot based in Richmond which provides services to people with mental illness and developmen- tal disabilities, said people should not hesitate to reach out to the numerous organizations in the Fort Bend County area that provide counseling. “Since COVID-19 is aecting every- one tovaryingdegrees,wemust all take care of ourselves and focus on healthy ways to cope with the stress,” Patter- son said. “When the stress becomes unbearable and is aecting our ability to function, it is time to reach out for professional help.” Nola Z. Valente contributed to this report.

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