Caring for your mental health while staying safe from COVID-19

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Prioritizing your physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic can put a strain on your mental health. Just ask psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Rock Prairie Behavioral Health, Dr. Dakota Carter.

Dr. Carter, who also owns and operates at Brazos Valley Behavioral Health, says he’s seeing an uptick in depression and anxiety.

“People who have never experienced them are experiencing them for the first time,” said Dr. Carter, “and then we have the folks who have these chronic illnesses seeing exacerbations of these problems.”

The answer? Connection, according to Dr. Carter, and he says it’s still possible to achieve while social distancing.

“The technology and devices we use every day,” Dr. Carter said, citing Zoom and FaceTime and even TikTok for kids. “Have those conversations. Watch a Netflix show together.”

Speaking of kids, Dr. Carter says to begin by talking to them about what’s going on.

“Engage with them on their level,” said Dr. Carter. “As parents, we have to recognize that this is new for kids.”

Then, don’t force an exactly eight-hour school day.

“Do some school work, then go for a walk as a family and come back to school work later,” said Dr. Carter. “We don’t all have to be supermoms and superdads, and it’s okay to recognize that you aren’t a PE or math teacher. Let family time be fun time.”

Finally, Dr. Carter says the key to addressing mental health issues during this time is to talk about them. You can begin with a loved one.

“Really talk about these issues,” said Dr. Carter. “It’s important not to stigmatize or to shy away from having depressive episodes or having anxiety right now.”

And if things become too overwhelming, reach out for professional help by a mental health worker.

Dr. Carter suggested the following resources for extra support at this time:

Rock Prairie Behavioral Health – Clinicians available 24 hours a day; call (979) 703-8848
MHMR – Call 888-522-8262
Brazos Valley Behavioral Health – 979-977-2130
As always, if you have an emergency, call 9-1-1.