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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

June 9, 2020

Tuesday Tidbits from the KSRE Stress and Resiliency Team - Mental Health First Aid During COVID-19

Submitted by Monica Warner Walker

The Mental Health First Aid program teaches participants how to reach out and provide the initial support for someone who may be experiencing a mental health disorder or a crisis. With COVID-19, social distancing has caused us to physically distance ourselves, but we can still connect socially to those who may be in need through different forms of technology, or by maintaining a proper physical distance in person. These challenging times may actually increase someone’s mental health symptoms.

The acronym of ALGEE helps us to know how to reach out to others.

Assess – Assessing is checking on our friends, family, or neighbors. Not just the quick “How are you?” and the “I’m fine.” response, but asking questions like “What has been the hardest part of your day?” or “What are you doing to cope?.”

Listen - After you ask, take the time to listen – and then reflect on what you’re hearing and ask questions.

Give reassurance - Instead of saying “It’s not that big of a deal,” or “I know how you feel,” (because we may not); let them know you care and they’re not alone, and there is help available.

Encourage - The two E’s are basically encouraging help and support, and connecting them to appropriate professional help. That can be as simple as calling the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which is a treatment referral routing service. It’s confidential, free, and available 24 hours a day in both English and Spanish. They offer referrals in addition to free publications. Their number is 800-662-HELP (4357).

So check on your friends, family, and neighbors, and even fellow Extension employees, especially those who are isolated; because our mental health is just as important as our physical health.