Episode #26: Debra Sloss is joined by Anastasia Baboulevich and Psychotherapist Kara Bowman, LMFT to talk about practical ways to cope with the profound impacts the COVID pandemic is having on all of us as we navigate the cascading stressors of the last 9 months. We recorded this interview in March 2020, but we thought this show could again be helpful, given the recent surge. As a person who lives with a mental illness and as a NAMI peer support group leader, Anastasia shares how she and those she works with are experiencing and dealing with the pandemic while trying to support their vulnerable mental health. Psychotherapist Kara Bowman suggests ways to support one’s self and loved ones during these unprecedented times. This show is for those living with mental health challenges, but also for anyone wanting to take better care of their own mental health as we all navigate the challenges of the pandemic. Full of practical suggestions you can adopt right away, this show offers extensive mental health oriented and mostly free resources.
Special thanks to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production, and to Jennifer Young, who assists with research and outreach. And finally, thanks to acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg for composing, performing, and donating the use of our theme music.
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RESOURCES (updated 12/22/20)
We have collected resources here to help support those living with mental illness, but also to help everyone build resilience in these challenging times. The majority of these are free or no cost and we have tried to emphasize local resources when possible.
* Indicates local resource
*Santa Cruz County Health Department Updates – for up-to-date local Public Health Information
California Department of Health Updates
KQED provides Coronavirus updates, Where are the California hotspots? and Share their story in our online memorial. Ver información sobre el coronavirus en español.
Guidelines for Safer Sex during Covid-19 by Yale University
Call 211 for local information and resources
Finding a Therapist
Call your insurance company or log on to their website to find a covered therapist. All therapists are now allowed to see clients online via videoconferencing.
California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
*Family Services – Santa Cruz– Sliding scale & low-cost community counseling center. Takes MediCal.
*Community Human Services – Monterey. Outpatient counseling, outpatient and residential substance abuse program, and homelessness outreach. Sliding scale and MediCal accepted.
*Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Services (PVPSA)-Watsonville
*Shine a Light Counseling Center – Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Monterey MediCal and low-fee sliding scale. Video sessions at this time except for some children.
*Community Bridges – Ten programs deliver essential services, provide equitable access to resources, and advocate for health and dignity across every stage of life. Free bilingual counseling services at their four Family Resource Centers (via phone or video during the pandemic). Make an appointment with one of their counselors at 831-246-6360. Printable flyers for their counseling program in English and Spanish.
Support & Education
* National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Santa Cruz County – Support Groups (listed below), Educational Classes (listed below), Information, and Advocacy
*NAMI Support Groups – Currently via Zoom. All groups are free and drop-in friendly!
*NAMI Connection: for adults with mental health challenges.
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
*NAMI Family Support Group: for loved ones of adults (18+) with mental health challenges.
Thursdays 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
*NAMI Parents of Youth Support Group: for loved ones of youth (11-17) with mental health challenges.
2nd Wednesdays 6:30 – 8:00 pm.
*NAMI Grupo de Apoyo: Family Support Group for Spanish speakers.
Tuesdays 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
*NAMI Classes – Currently offered via Zoom. Free of cost, registration required.
*NAMI Peer-to-Peer: 8-session course for adults with mental health challenges interested in learning about their conditions and living in recovery.
*NAMI Family-to-Family: 8-session course for loved ones of adults (18+) with mental health challenges interested in learning how to better support their loved one.
*NAMI Basics: 6-session course for loved ones of youth (11-17) with mental health challenges interested in learning how to better support their loved one.
*NAMI De Familia-a-Familia: our Family-to-Family course for Spanish speakers.
NAMI California. Great website to find out how to advocate, and what for, regarding mental health legislation in California. namica.org
NAMI – National website and a great resource to find information about different mental illnesses, join a forum, and/or keep updated with the latest mental health news. www.nami.org
Mental Health America has compiled an extensive list of resources in 10 different categories targeting specific mental health needs in response to Covid-19, including immediate and crisis response
Mental Health Self-Care
(NAMI) Covid-19 (CORONAVIRUS) INFORMATION AND RESOURCES An extensive, yet organized and easy to access mental health guide by the National Alliance on Mental Illness covering a wide array of related topics and offering self-care resources.
Good Therapy – How to Cope with the Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19
March 14, 2020 • By Crystal Raypole
*How to Not Let Covid-19 Steal Your Mental Health While You’re At Home
by Santa Cruz Psychotherapist Kara Bowman, MFT
*How to Stay Connected During Physical Distancing
Produced by AIM: Youth Mental Health
The Mighty is a safe, supportive online community for people facing health challenges and the people who care for them.
The Good News Network A news source for timely articles that are both positive and true.
CDC Guide for Managing Stress & Anxiety
*Information About Santa Cruz County Mental Health Crisis Services
The ACCESS Team and the Mobile Emergency Response Team (MERT) are taking calls, taking crisis walk-in clients (at both North and South County Clinic sites), and responding to mental health crises as appropriate. Both Teams currently operate Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm and are accessible by calling 1-800-952-2335. Please note that everyone is being screened per COVID-19 precautions prior to being allowed into the Clinics. It is recommended that you call 1-800-952-2335 to talk with a clinician prior to coming to the clinic.Essential emergency services are still operational, but 911 calls are being screened for urgency and COVID-19 symptoms. Mental Health Liaisons will still be responding with Law Enforcement to mental health related calls based on appropriateness and availability.
Provided by Cynthia Nollenberger LMFT, Supervising Mental Health Client Specialist for the Mental Health Liaisons (with SCC Sheriffs, Santa Cruz PD & Watsonville PD) and the Focused Intervention Team.
Mindfulness and Relaxation
*Insight Santa Cruz offers formal and informal classes and practices of meditation and mindfulness with a focus on the breath, body, feeling tones, thoughts, and emotions. The many programs at Insight Santa Cruz are offered freely. (However, donations accepted.) Some current offerings are listed below (all online):
*Those Living with Pain or Illness Support Group
1st Tuesday monthly 10:00-11:30 am
*Rainbow Sangha Meditation
Thursdays 7:00-8:30 pm
*Waking up to White Privilege
2nd Tuesday monthly 5:30-7:00 pm
*New to Meditation Instruction and talk
Wednesday evenings 7:00-8:30 pm
Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself in Quarantine – If you’re sheltering in place, be sure to check in with yourself. BY BROOKE ANDERSON | MARCH 24, 2020
Dr. Kristin Neff’s Meditations and other resources Seven guided meditations on self-compassion ranging from 5 to 25 minutes as well as 8 written or oral self-compassion exercises.
Dr. Tara Brach’s Guided Meditations Dozens of guided meditations that are about 20 minutes each.
Dartmouth College Visualizations and Relaxations Dozens of short physical relaxations, relaxing visualizations, guided imagery and soothing music recordings.
Fragrant Heart Meditations Dozens of 2-20 minute meditations organized by category, such as stress relief, children, self-esteem and love.
UCLA Guided Meditations Eight guided meditations ranging from 3 to 20 minutes. Four guided meditations in Spanish ranging from 4 to 14 minutes.
UCSD Medical School Guided Meditation and Mindful Movement Audios and Videos Dozens of body relaxations and visualizations, including one in Spanish. Many different narrators.
The 9 Best Relaxation Videos on YouTube Links to nine different videos, including nature sounds, guided meditations, and relaxing visuals. Most videos will lead to others by the same creator.
Resilience in Challenging Times – by the Sounds True Community. A free digital care package to help you navigate the coming days with mindfulness, compassion, and presence.
Insight Timer – Free phone app with meditations (for IOS or Android phones)
To Lift You Up
Poems (and paired videos) related to the Covid-19 Pandemic
*Local Faith Communities Online – direct links to those offering online services, classes or meetings
A Calm Place – a peaceful short, calming video released by the New York Times
Good News Podcast About Covid-19 and Other News – An uplifting and positive podcast news source available on IOS and Android.
Story Corps Uplifting Stories – daily newsletter with heartwarming audio stories from their collection to help keep your spirits boosted and your faith in humanity strong. Sign up here for reminders of heart, humanity, and generosity from everyday people.
Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – discusses how an infectious disease outbreak might affect your family—both physically and emotionally—and what you can do to help your family cope. In Spanish – En español
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Helping Children Cope – a list of suggestions about ways parents can respond to their childrens’ reactions to COVID-19 according to age group.
Optimize your Home Environment for Online Learning – Tips for supporting successful home learning with special considerations for those with ADHD and Executive Function Challenges.
*Early Support Program for Autism (ESPA) Guide for Parents – Resources for Families of Individuals with Special Needs during Coronavirus Outbreak from ESPA, a joint Stanford & Children’s Health Council project with regional resources listed.
Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents – for both preschool, school-age and adolescents. Produced by National Child Traumatic Stress Network
How School Closures Can Strengthen Your Family – Here are three ways to cope if your kid’s school closes. by Christine Carter | March 16, 2020
For LGBTQ+ Youth
Queer Resilience and Empowerment LGBTQ+ Classroom for students at home during the school closures. Created by Delta School teacher and Safe Schools Project team member Jamie Cutter. You can contact Jaimie at: JamieCutter@QYTF.org
*Trans Youth and Covid-19: ways to prepare, safe online communities, and local organizations – A resources guide prepared by Queer Youth Updates of Santa Cruz County a program of the Safe Schools Project.
*Diversity Center Santa Cruz Support Groups – now offering an array of online support groups for youth, seniors & gamers.
Greater Good Thinking
How to Keep the Greater Good in Mind During the Coronavirus Outbreak
In the midst of our panic around Covid-19, we must look to each other to help us get through it.– Article by Jill Suttie | MARCH 10, 2020
Practice “Distant Socializing” Instead of Social Distancing. The same technologies that people once blamed for tearing society apart might be our best chance of staying together during the COVID-19 outbreak. by Melissa De Witte | MARCH 20, 2020
How to Avoid Feeling Defeated in Today’s Crazy World. Article about how the world’s problems may feel overwhelming, but we can nurture our caring spirit so we stay active in solving them. by Tim Desmond | MARCH 13, 2020
*Ten Tips and Things We Can Do Now To Protect Ourselves From Coronavirus and Keep Our Immune Systems Strong. by Denise Diani, Physical Therapist, Wellness Coach and Naam Yoga Instructor
Avoid Touching These Novel Coronavirus Cyber Scams– a blog on 5 specific ways to avoid falling victim to cybercriminals who use crisis and emergencies as opportunities. Blog post by Keeper.