What are the signs of mental struggles during COVID-19 pandemic?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- With people isolated because of COVID-19 and social distancing, and social events disrupted, awareness of mental health is even more than important than usual during these uncertain times.

Dr. Nerissa Price, Director of WakeMed's Behavioral Community Case Management, joined ABC11 to answer a few questions about mental health and the warning signs we should look for that there may be a problem.

A partial transcript follows, Watch the video in the media player above for the full interview.

With the COVID-19 crisis, what are the red flags we should be looking for that someone is struggling mentally?

It might be important to just talk about the context of mental health, that mental illness in this country is very common; 1 in 5 adults will have a mental illness, and when you look at something like COVID-19, the devastating emotional, physical, economic effects, you have to anticipate that there will be some worsening mental health conditions, that's there's likely a second curve that really reflects that emotional health difficulties. And so when we talk about red flags, sometimes this can be difficult to figure out without the help of a professional ... you would want to look at things such as change in moods or change in behavior that radically impacts a person's functioning ability. And those would be concerning red flags as well as if a person were to have thoughts that life were not worth living or having suicidal thoughts, that is always a red flag that there is an underlying mental-health condition that we should be concerned about and get immediate emotional support and professional help.

What are some ways to build resilience as it relates to emotional struggles during the social distancing and COVID-19 pandemic?

I have three self tips that I would give people. First, I would say self-awareness, so, just like we are checking our physical temperature, we need to check our emotional temperature ... my second self tip would be let's practice more self-care. So, we know with physical health, we need to eat right, exercise, sleep, and we need to have healthy nutrition. These things are also true for emotional health, but also for emotional health, we need to inject activities that bring us joy, like talking to a friend or family member or listening to music that we enjoy or spending time with meditation or prayer. And we need to build those into our day-to-day life as important as our day-to-day type of activities. And then finally, I would advise that sometimes we need to get out of self, that when we're in our negative thinking, that we can spend that energy and try to channel it into perhaps helping other people. COVID-19 has exposed a lot of needs in the community, and when we help others, we not only help them but help ourselves, and we help remind ourselves that we are part of the community and that we're important to each other.
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