PORTSMOUTH – Being bombarded constantly with rapidly changing news about the new coronavirus, COVID-19, can be overwhelming and can lead to anxiety and stress.

Local mental health leaders are ready to help.

Ken Norton, Executive Director of NH NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), said that during the self-isolation period all of the 10 community mental health centers remain open.

“Depending on the service some are still happening face-to-face and some have been happening remotely including telephonically,” said Norton. “Many in-home mental health supports are now occurring by phone, text or other remote devices. Governor (Chris) Sununu issued an executive order to broaden the scope of mental health and health services that can be done remotely. Yesterday, the Federal Government loosened some of the Health Information and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations for using telehealth – this in part opened the door for the Governor’s order.”

Gov. Sununu’s executive order requires all in-network providers tp cover services through telehealth, including video and audio or other electronic media. That order is in effect until after the state of emergency or until rescinded by the governor. Coverage rates will be the same as for more traditional services.

Norton, understanding that the general population is stressed right now, said there are several things mental health associates are advising.

“Since many people now have disrupted daily routines (work, school, sports, worship services, etc.) it is important to consider establishing a new routine or schedule,” said Norton. “Sunlight is a positive contributor to good health and if people can get outside, using appropriate social distancing, on a regular basis that can have a positive effect on mental health. We are also recommending that people limit how much news they are watching/listening to or reading, with more free time on their hands, some people are more tuned into news and reports of COVID. While situations are changing daily and it is important to keep informed, limiting news to one or two set times during the day may reduce feelings of unease or anxiety.”

Practicing mindfulness, meditation or yoga are healthy options that people can do on their own, Norton said.

To read the full article, please go to Fosters.com.