As we continue to work together to safeguard our physical health, it is equally important to tend to our mental well-being. Our world has been turned upside down and we’ve lost that sense of normalcy and routines that help us cope with stress and anxiety under ordinary circumstances — but there is nothing about this pandemic that is ordinary. Our nation is grappling with the worst public health crisis in more than a century, and this places us all at risk of experiencing trauma in varying degrees.
Talking about how you’re feeling and checking in with others can be incredibly important tools to cope with the strain of physical isolation and uncertainty during this time.
This week, I partnered with Senator Laura Fine, Representative Robyn Gabel and the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) for a live event to gather input and answer questions from our constituents on a wide range of mental health issues. In case you missed it, the recorded video from the NAMI event is available on our website here.
Please read below for mental health tips and resources as well as fun activities and coping strategies from experts in our local community.
As always, you can call our office any time for help connecting you or a family member to resources or just to hear a friendly voice. We will be checking messages and answering calls weekdays during business hours at (847) 486-8810.
You are not alone.
Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz
Mental Health Tips
The NAMI COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide provides excellent tips on how to stay informed, take action, maintain healthy social connections and find resources for support.
Maintain familiar routines in daily life as much as possible. Take care of your basic needs and employ helpful coping strategies to maintain a healthy work/life balance. For example, to help overcome uncertainty, mirroring daily patterns and practices can be helpful. If you’re working from home, create a structured, dedicated work environment and build in time for self-care.
Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks. Have the emails and phone numbers of close family and friends at your fingertips. Use social media or digital platforms to stay connected. Find a free online support group. Visit the “online support group section” in the NAMI COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide for a list of options.
Unplug and Exercise
Take care of yourself by making time for breaks and keep movement as part of your daily life. Exercise is a great way to care for your body. There are many different ways to exercise. Many of them are free, don’t require any equipment and can be done at home. Find a routine that fits your needs and abilities, whether it’s taking a walk or light movement like stretching.
There are many ways to build a feeling of connection with others. Offer help to others if you can. Our office has made over 6,000 wellness calls to seniors throughout the district. Sign up to make wellness calls in the 17th District. Join the Fight Against COVID-19 here in Illinois. and volunteer with state efforts.
Action for Happiness
The organization Action for Happiness has 3 tips on how to respond to COVID-19 constructively:
Listen to the Experts – Leading health authorities tell us that our actions now can reduce the burden on the healthcare systems and help save lives. We all need to respond.
Keep Calm (but don’t carry on) – In light of the latest expert advice, our recommendation is to avoid non-essential face-to-face gatherings for the time being to help slow the spread of the virus.
Make Wise and Kind Choices – We can all help to reduce the impact of this virus by looking after our own health, washing our hands, self-isolating if needed and being kind and considerate to others.
The world is in crisis. Keep Calm, Stay Wise & Be Kind.
30 actions to look after ourselves and each other as we face this global crisis together.
If You Do Not Feel Safe At Home
If it is not safe for you to remain at home during the Stay-At-Home order, you are urged to find another safe place to stay. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance to secure safe housing, please contact the resources below or call your local law enforcement:
800-799-7233, 800-787-3224 (TTY) or if you are unable to speak safely,
you can log on to thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522
847-864-8780 or (toll free) 877-718-1868
Mental Health Resources and Support During Covid-19
800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 6674
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) can connect callers with professional help and navigate insurance coverage issues.
800-273-8225 or text HELLO to 74174
If you or someone you know is in crisis—whether they are considering suicide or not—
please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.
800-621-4000 or 800-786-2929
Advocates available 24/7 to provide supportive counseling and problem-solving referrals
Illinois’ Call4Calm Text Line
Text TALK to 552020 for English or HABLAR for Spanish to 552020
24-hour Crisis line: 773-293-8488
AHS offers a wide range of counseling services for individuals, adolescents and families. The child and adolescent outpatient program provides services to kids’ ages 5 through 17 experiencing or at risk of experiencing decreased functioning due to behavioral issues. All services are offered in more than 30 languages.
Illinois Psychiatric Society COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Link
Cook County Department of Public Health: Behavioral Health Link
CDC Information on Emotional Health: Link
NorthShore University Health System – Crisis Intervention Services
24/7 Crisis Line:847-570-2500
NorthShore’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences provides a variety of crisis related services focused on the individual patients needs through their Access Center and Intervention Service Team.
Advocate Lutheran General Hospital – Behavioral Health
1775 Dempster Street, Park Ridge IL 60068 – 5th floor
Lutheran General’s behavioral health services provide compassionate care for all age groups – adults, children and families. A full spectrum of mental, emotional and behavioral illnesses is treated through a variety of programs geared to meet each patient’s specific needs.
405 Central Ave in Northfield
24/7 Crisis Line: 847-441-5600
The Josselyn Center offers a variety of services to adults, children and families throughout the north suburban area.
8324 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL 60077
24/7 Crisis Line: -847-933-0051
Turning Point offers a variety of mental health services, including Individual, Family, and Couples Therapy, Case Management, Group Therapy, and Crisis Services.
New Trier Township Social Services
-847-446-8202 or email at email@example.com
Contact: Jeanne Winsted Rosser, LCSW
847-673-9300 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacts: Holly C. Zimmerman, LCSW and Jackie Walker-O’Keefe, LCSW
Northfield Township Social Services
847-724-8300 or email at email@example.com
Contact: Hilda Morales, Case Manager
Lynn Zakeri, LCSW: 1-847-933-9220 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynn offers tips for managing stress and anxiety like how to maintain a daily schedule while sheltering-in-place as well as offers fun activities like creating a pandemic time capsule through her blog, which you view here.
Fun Things to Do
Activities for Students
- ABC Mouse at Home Learning
- Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems at the Kennedy Center
- National Geographic Kids
- Khan Academy Kids
- Build a Lego set
- PBS Kids
- TED Ed
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Oxford Owl for Kids
- Visit the San Diego Zoo
- Explore the surface of Mars
- Discovery Education
- Write letter to family and friends
- Tour Yellowstone National Park
- Virtual Tour of the Boston Children’s Museum
- Think ahead – Make your Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gifts this year!
- History Channel for Kids
- Scholastic at Home
- Story Time from Space – Astronauts reach stories
- Science Activities from NOAA
Distractions for Everyone
- Virtual Museum Tours
- Headspace Mediation
- Google Arts and Culture
- Learn how to do origami
- Build a fort with your child
- Open Culture– Free E-books and Movies
- 10 Ways to Ease Anxiety and Boredom
- Put together a photo album or scrapbook
- Redecorate a room or do some house renovations
- Video chat with family and friends
- NPR Podcasts
- NPR Illinois Podcasts
- Cooking Meal from pantry items
- Plan a date night with your spouse/partner
- NASA Videos and Images
- Live Concerts, Theater and Film