Mental health expert offers tips to manage coronavirus anxiety

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are beginning to experience the stress of being overloaded with information. A leading psychiatrist says it's important for folks to dial-in to the latest development increments.

"People are worried that our society is disintegrating," said Alliance Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mehul Mankad. "I think you can be paralyzed with anxiety."

He says folks should "schedule time to worry," which is guidance is often given to who struggle with anxiety on a daily basis.

"Choose specific times when they consume news from trusted news sources, like ABC11, and decide when that's going to be. For me, that's in the morning and then the evening after work," he said.

Mankad suggests engaging in productive activities such as exercising, gardening or reading.

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For people in quarantine:
Mankad says folks who are staying home, under direction or out of precaution, need support and could feel ostracized.

"I want people to remain social, they just need to be physically distance," he said. "Reaching out to them through these video chats, text messages or phone calls like the old fashion way I think that's critical."

For children:
Mankad recommends using language little ones can understand and avoiding words that evoke fear.

"The word 'pandemic' sounds terrifying," he said.

He says adults don't need to explain what's happening globally, but rather convey how the situation relates to their world.

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"If you talk to kids about what's happening in Italy and China, they don't really know about Italy and China. That's not going to resonate. But if you make it more personal and (say) "We're going to wash our hands to keep grandma safe" that might sink in better," he said.

Mankad says if kids ask you the same questions about COVID-19 over again, they're seeking is reassure that everything is going to be okay.
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