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Helpful Thinking

At seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have concerns about safety, helplessness, feeling unable to cope, guilt, and anger. These feelings are understandable given what we're all going through; but focusing on these negative feelings can make it even harder to cope. It can help to identify the unhelpful thoughts and then redirect your focus to more helpful thoughts. The National Center for PTSD compiled the charts below as a guide for practicing using helpful thoughts. When you're thinking "I am too scared to do anything because I might get infected," or "I'm going to infect others," some alternative helpful thoughts might be "I can gather information, set priorities, adapt my plans, and carry out the most important necessities in ways that are safe." Also remind yourself "I am doing the best I can to keep myself and my family safe," and "I can find ways to express…

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Combating Social Isolation in Children During COVID-19

By Tamra Williams, Ph.D., Deputy Chief Clinical Officer—Children’s Services, Community Behavioral Health, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services For children, one of the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a decrease in opportunities to interact with their peers in traditional and important ways. Restrictions on face-to-face interactions with peers and playmates and more time spent indoors translate, for some children, into stress and frustration that affects their emotional and behavioral health. From a developmental perspective, we know that play and peer interaction is important for young children. It helps with social skills, moral reasoning, and cognitive development. Moreover, children staying home 24/7 can add an additional layer of stress to parents, chipping away at their emotional reserves and ability to parent effectively. How can we combat the loss of playtime and the increased stress on parents?  Routines are important. School provides a consistent routine that is vital for…

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Closing the treatment gap: Time to address inequality within mental health

By Sosunmolu Shoyinka, MD DBHIDS Chief Medical Officer Two months ago, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and the City of Philadelphia took the occasion of Mental Health Awareness Month to remind residents -- especially during this difficult and unprecedented time of COVID-19: “You’re not alone. Help is out there.” Much has changed in the national dialogue since early May. And now Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, recognized in July of each year, gives us the opportunity to look more closely at overall mental health awareness -- and focus on the shortcomings of mental health treatment among minority groups. Mental health issues are not limited by race, gender, sexual identity, or anything else. Sadly, data suggest that access to mental health care does have limitations. This is particularly the case for minority populations. Across the United States, minority groups are less likely to have access to mental…

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15 Ways to Continue Supporting the Mental Health of Remote & On-site Teams

Almost overnight, remote work transformed from a niche benefit to the norm for millions of employees. And looking out for the mental well being of your workforce – both remote and in the office – is now more critical than ever. As many states and cities begin the 'yellow phase' of returning to work, there are still many people who will be working remotely for quite some time and will need support and guidance from their organizations and managers. COVID-19 has impacted remote and on-site teams in all sorts of ways: the cognitive load of processing the rapidly changing world in addition to work; the loss of the familiar scents, sounds, and sights of the office; our inner critics always watching us on camera in virtual meetings; the perceived need to be "on" 24/7; the cognitive dissonance of managing virtual communications; and virtual fatigue from the verbal and nonverbal demands…

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