05.11.20 COVID-19 Briefing Live Stream Transcript

May 11th, 2020
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  1. The County of Santa Clara
  2. May 11, 2020
  3. Live Stream - Live with the County of Santa Clara
  4. 10am PT
  6. Mego Lien: Good morning, my name is Mego Lien and I am a program manager with the County of Santa Clara's Behavioral Health Services Department. Before we get started today, I have two quick announcements.
  8. First, we were wearing our face coverings before this segment began. We have removed them in order to help our American sign language interpreters but we will be putting them on right after this segment ends and we encourage you to keep wearing your face coverings when you are outside of the home. I also have an update on numbers for COVID-19 in the county.
  10. Today, to date, there have been 2341 total cases, this includes seven new cases and there have been 129 deaths and this includes no new deaths at this time. This is also a reminder to continue sheltering in place.
  12. So, today we're going to be talking about mental health and this is a timely topic because May is Mental Health Awareness Month and because there are so many things that are impacting our mental health right now. During this pandemic, it's common and it's okay, to be feeling a whole range of feelings from anxiety and fear to hopelessness and even frustration and anger. There are things that we can do to protect our mental health and I'm here today, with Dr. Rachel Talamantez, Senior Manager with the County of Santa Clara's Behavioral Health Services Department. Rachel is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has a doctorate in counseling psychology.
  14. So welcome Rachel.
  16. Rachel Talamantez: Thank you. Happy to be here.
  18. ML: So, let's start with talking about stress and some of its impacts. What are some of the different ways that people might be responding to this pandemic right now?
  20. RT: When we think about stress, there's three different categories, if you will, that we think about.
  22. The first is mild stress. We encompass mild stress every single day. Getting ready to go to work, getting ready go to school, for kids, taking a test, may be facing a job interview but also good things like getting married, having a baby, we're not going to amusement parks right now but when you go to amusement parks in the past and you ride a roller coaster that's an example of mild stress. And we have all sorts of mechanisms in our body and our past experiences to help us cope with that mild stress and it actually supports our resilience and our skills and our capacities to manage stress that's more moderate or more intense.
  24. Moderate stress is stress that can feel at times a bit overwhelming but we have the resources to reorganize around whatever is happening to be able to help us kind of move forward.
  26. And then there's more significant stress that could be severe, chronic. The research might refer to it as acute or toxic stress. And this is stress that can be long and enduring, unpredictable and the kind of stress that we think about with regards to maybe medical traumas, child abuse and neglect, things that might happen with regards to intimate partner violence, and those are stressors that we really need to pay significant attention to, to ensure the health and well-being of individuals children families in our community.
  28. ML: So, we've been sheltering in place for several weeks now and so maybe some people would think of that as some longer-term stress. So, could you talk a little bit more about the impacts of some of that longer-term stress.
  30. RT: Yeah so, we definitely have been sheltering in place for a while and the impact is that we're not able to go about our days in the way that we used to. In addition, there may be more significant impacts that are coming our way and as we think about the pandemic and the stress affiliated with the pandemic, everybody has their own unique and individual response. I think that's the most important thing to really be mindful of.
  32. For some, this has been catastrophic maybe you've been sick yourself, maybe a loved one has died, that's very significant and that's very impactful and wondering what the next steps are, how are we going to move through this, what does this all mean may at times feel overwhelming. For others, it's been more of a reorganization of our days. It's been adjusting kind of our routines and how we go through our day-to-day life and kind of managing those kinds of circumstances. We look to the future in terms of thinking about how we manage longer term stress.
  34. And I think that our future, personally I feel very hopeful about our future, and when we can maintain a sense of hope that's certainly something that will help when we're facing something that's kind of more longer-term.
  36. ML: So, based on what you've shared, would you say that COVID-19 is an extreme or prolonged type of stress or even a trauma maybe?
  38. RT: When we think about the word trauma, trauma is our response to a stressful event. So, for some of us, very early on, I recall in the pandemic in the first few weeks of shelter-in-place, we were going to the stores and we were buying toilet paper and we were buying paper towels and hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes and trying to get our pantries full. And that if you will is a stress response. It's a fight response to fend off the negative impacts of significant stress and is part of our protective mechanisms.
  40. We also have the flee response. We're going to run from the event. It's hard to run from this event but we've actually seen people run towards their main family home, children returning from college and coming home, fleeing the environment they were in to come to an environment that feels safe that's sort of a harbor if you will of connection and support.
  42. And then we also have a freeze response. A freeze response is a response that we don't quite know what to do. We feel almost like a deer in headlights you've probably heard that expression.
  44. The important thing is that these are hopefully momentary moments in time and we don't want to see these heightened stress responses prolong for days or weeks or even months on end. And so, the key to combating this from being a longer-term impact is really to ensure that we have adequate coping strategies and support systems that will be able to help us maintain.
  46. ML: So, some people in our community are facing some really significant adversity. So, there's the health concerns but there's also racism and discrimination, homelessness, the economic impacts of the pandemic. So, what can be done when someone is really experiencing that level of stress and adversity?
  48. RT: It's really important to be connected. Being connected to your family, your friends, your social networks but also to your community resources. We have a realm, an array, of resources here in Santa Clara County and getting connected with supports related to food, shelter, financial support, physical health but also mental health and substance abuse supports is essential and connecting with organizations such as 2-1-1, our resource and referral line in Santa Clara County, gives us an opportunity to get connected with resources and ensures that we're not isolated and managing the stress on our own.
  50. ML: Great. Let's talk about families for a second and especially parents and caregivers. So how can parents provide support to their children and their families at this time?
  52. RT: You know, during any stressful event but particularly right now, it's really important that parents, actually caregivers, actually take care of themselves. It's a little counter intuitive you want to put all of your resources into the health and the well-being of your children but the first thing is you have to make sure that you, as the caregiver, are well. That you're emotionally balanced, you're healthy, you have support systems and when you're calm that helps you respond to your children in a calm way. And that's what children need during this time is a sense of I have a caregiver who can watch over me who's calm, who's loving who protects me, and who's keeping me safe but also answers my questions or supports me when I'm confused and I'm not sure what's happening.
  54. Children express their feelings often not so much with words but with behaviors. And often we'll see a little bit of fussiness, increased irritability, maybe behavioral issues that we haven't seen before we thought we're way in our past and they're coming up again. Behavior is communication and so children are able to tell us in some ways that they need extra support or that they are feeling stressed through their behavior.
  56. ML: So, what are some ways that caregivers can support their children and protect their mental health at this time?
  58. RT: I think it's really important that caregivers and parents and really adults they're supporting children but also other adults in our society that were present and were attuned and we're responsive. Present means really being with someone, really being connected, taking that time to say, "How are you," "I'm here for you," "Let's talk," having those kinds of conversations. Attuned is noticing how somebody's feeling, wondering about it, connecting with them about that. And then responsive meaning that you're responding to the needs of others as well as responding to the needs of yourself. Those are three things that are really important being present, being attuned, and being responsive.
  60. ML: These are some great tips. Do you have some other suggestions for supporting families not just the children but the adults at this time?
  62. RT: Yeah, I think one of the things we've talked a lot about is emergency plans. And I like to think of how do we build plans in the same way around well-being. Well-being plans or stress reduction plans things like that. And so, I encourage all of us to have a plan for how we're going to and how we are managing the different stressors that are coming into our day-to-day existence during this pandemic. All of the plans should consider two things.
  64. One, and it's kind of two words, being calm and being connected. What are the things in the activities you can do to maintain a state of calm to support stress reduction? That might be going out on a walk, getting some sunshine, and might be taking a bath or a shower, reading books, listening to music that you enjoy.
  66. Also, being connected we need to be physically distant but we can be socially connected. We can be emotionally connected and those social emotional connections, those relationships that we have, are utmost important and so your stress plan or your well-being planned can really include how you're going to stay connected, email, text, writing old-fashioned letters, sending cards those sorts of things can go a long way and really making sure that you have your support network and you're also building a support network if that's part of your stress plan.
  68. ML: Thank you Rachel. I'm really glad we had a chance today to talk about mental health because as we've said mental health affects so much of how we think and feel, how we function, and as you said how we take care of others as well. We just want to leave you with a few important numbers. There are providers all over Santa Clara County who are available right now to support you.
  70. To access mental health services, you can either call your own health mental health plan or your own health plan or you can call the County of Santa Clara's behavioral health services department.
  72. To access mental health services and this includes crisis services or general referrals you can call 1-800-704-0900.
  74. To access substance use services, call 1-800-488-9919.
  76. If you or someone you know is thinking about self-harm or if somebody just needs someone to talk to, we have the suicide and crisis services which are 24/7. They're free and they're confidential. The County's suicide and crisis hotline number is 1-855-278-4204 or you can text the word renew, R-E-N-E-W to the number 741741 to access a crisis counselor by text message.
  78. And finally, for up to date information about COVID-19 in the Bay Area you can call 2-1-1. So, we hope you really consider reaching out for support or at least keeping these phone numbers on hand in case you or a loved one needs them at any point.
  80. That's all we have for today. Thank you so much everybody and stay safe.
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