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Protecting Mental Health in Era of New Coronavirus

Many employers have turned to telecommuting as a way to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. (Adobe Stock)
Many employers have turned to telecommuting as a way to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. (Adobe Stock)
March 16, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, so does anxiety. Health professionals say social distancing, frequent hand washing for 20 seconds with hot, soapy water, and staying at home if you feel sick are especially critical to protecting the state's vulnerable populations.

Tom Starling, CEO of Mental Health America of the MidSouth, said his group has noticed a slight uptick in the number of online anxiety screenings on its website, adding it's important to find healthy ways to manage stress.

"A lot of people are asking themselves, 'Am I going to have a job? Is my health going to be OK?' There's a lot of unknowns," Starling said. "I would just really encourage people to stay connected with friends and family. Don't just text, but talk."

So far, officials have identified 39 cases of COVID-19 in Tennessee, and Gov. Bill Lee has declared a state of emergency. Residents who have questions or believe they might have the disease should call the state's coronavirus hotline at 877-857-2945.

Starling said social media can feed hysteria, worry and misinformation.

"We need to stay calm, to rely on trustworthy news sources as well," he said. "Maybe don't spend as much time on Twitter and Facebook and social media, and turn to things like the CDC and public-health officials."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease seem to be at higher risk for COVID-19 illness.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - TN