As New Yorkers in the national epicenter of the pandemic, we must guard our mental health as closely as we guard our physical health. All of our lives have been upended by COVID-19. But a strong sense of self, clear thinking, and a dose of inner peace will bolster your ability to defeat this virus and to care for yourself and loved ones, especially amid swiftly changing facts.
We know that many New Yorkers are worried about their futures, but please know that the City has your back. Your health and safety is our most important priority, and we are working with city agencies to make sure the mental health needs of New Yorkers are supported during this challenging time. Although the streets are quiet in every borough, we are still a community of New Yorkers who need one another.
Social media is a game-changer when it comes to staying in touch. We can text, video chat, conference call, send photos. We can connect with whole groups of people anywhere, at any time. Reach out. Set up a schedule to keep in touch.
Feeling especially down? Many therapists now practice tele-psychiatry (with video chats) or conduct sessions via telephone. Anyone in New York City can call, text or chat at 1-888-NYC-WELL 24/7 to talk to trained counselors. Chat online at nyc.gov/nycwell. NYC Well is available in 200 languages.
A number of mental health services are taking steps to help people during this unprecedented time. Check ThriveNYC’s website for additional mental health resources that can also be accessed from home: https://thrivenyc.cityofnewyork.us/mental_health_support_while_home
Many New Yorkers live alone, and I know that there are no quick and easy solutions to the anxiety and uncertainty that can come with social distancing. We are social creatures, and it can feel strange, lonely and even frightening to be cut off from others. Those feelings can be exacerbated for those with an anxiety disorder or depression. Please continue to take any prescribed medications and take advantage of NYC Well. Speak up and tell someone if you feel isolated, afraid, or are thinking of hurting yourself.
Need practical information? Visit http://nyc.gov/coronavirus or text COVID to 692-692, or COVIDESP for Spanish language updates.
This crisis can also bring out the best in us —it can give us a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationships. With schools and workplaces shuttered, there is more time to talk about who we are and to reconnect with our partners, children, siblings, parents, friends, colleagues. Find time to teach your children a new skill, like playing Scrabble or preparing a favorite dish. If you live alone checking in on others is a good excuse to reach out.
We will miss the public life of our city establishments, but we are more than our bars and restaurants, our sports arenas, our schools, our cultural centers. These are troubled times, but we can emerge from this pandemic with a new sense of ourselves and a new gratitude for the many things that we have all too often taken for granted.
First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray has redefined the role of First Lady, managing a robust portfolio to advance an ambitious agenda in support of all New Yorkers.
[Editor’s Note: It is the policy of New York County Politics to run any op-ed it receives, with few exceptions. The op-eds do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of NYCP.]