Mental Health First Aid for COVID-19
State of Mind

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Episode #17: 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-19 outbreak is having on those with mental health conditions. 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 fear of the virus, social distancing, and other challenging aspects of the pandemic. Kara Bowman, a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in trauma, offers helpful suggestions about ways to support one’s self and our loved ones during these unprecedented times. This show is aimed at those living with mental health challenges and it may also help anyone navigating this pandemic. Full of practical suggestions you can adopt right away, this show includes an extensive list of mental health resources, most of which are free.

Broadcast:  4/5/20 (may air additional times)

Special thanks to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production, and to Jennifer Young, LMFT, for 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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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 low cost and we have tried to emphasize local resources when possible.
* Indicates local resource

Public Health

*Santa Cruz County Health Department Updates for up-to-date local Public Health Information

California Department of Health Updates

CDC Information on COVID-19

Sheltering in Place: What You Need to Know By Monica Lam | KQED News Staff | March 16, 2020

Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
The NYC Health Department may change recommendations as the situation evolves. March 21, 2020.

United Way Covid-19 Economic Relief Fund for local resources  1-866-211-9966

Call 211 for local information and resources

Food Safety

Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats

COVID-19 Food Safety Tips Video with Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen

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

Psychology Today

Low cost counseling:

*Family Services – Santa Cruz– Sliding scale & low cost community counseling center. Takes MediCal.

*Community Human Services – Monterey Not taking new clients until video services are in place. Sliding scale and MediCal accepted.

*Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Services (PVPSA)-Watsonville 

*Shine a Light Counseling Center – Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Monterey MediCal and sliding scale starting at $40. Video sessions at this time except for some children.

Support & Education

* National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Santa Cruz County No cost Support Groups, Education Classes, Information and Advocacy

*NAMI ConnectionFree Support group for adults with mental health challenges. Now offered via Zoom (a video meeting place) – visit our website for instructions on how to join the call. Mondays, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. & Wednesdays, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

*NAMI Family Support Group –  Free group for family members and loved ones of those with mental health challenges. Hope to offer groups Thursdays, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

*NAMI Online Support Groups via Zoom (a video meeting place).
Coming Soon – Check the website for dates & times
– For Parents & Caregivers of Youth (11-17)
– For Parents & Caregivers of Transition Age Youth (18-24)

*NAMI-SCC Parents of Youth Online Community an online discussion group for Parents of Children (up to 26) with a mental illness, sharing and supporting one another on a wide variety of issues from family and school to residential treatment and hospitalizations. To join, NAMI-SCC asks that you first attend a NAMI support group or class. During the current public health emergency, these are now being offered online.

NAMI California.  Great website to find out how to advocate, and what for, regarding mental health legislation in California.

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.

Mental Health America has compiled an extensive list of resources in 15 different categories targeting specific mental health needs in response to Covid-19  

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 recommendation is that you do not use any emergency services unless absolutely necessary.  The county has minimized staffing and are connecting with people mainly via phone/text/email. 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 operating 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 Sheriff’s Dept., Santa Cruz PD & Watsonville PD) and the Focused Intervention Team. 

Mindfulness and Relaxation

*Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation: Six-Week Series with Karen Zelin (Begins April 1, 2020)  Class focuses on developing mindfulness through the formal and informal practices of meditation. Students will learn and practice fundamental meditations 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.) 

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.

Resilence 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 – list and 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.

For Parents

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – This resource will help you think about 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 LearningTips 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: [email protected]

*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

Accessing Your Healthcare

Notification of Enforcement Discretion for telehealth remote communications during the Covid-19 nationwide public health emergency A notice explaining an effort to make telehealth easier to access by allowing some apps that are non-compliant with HIPPA requirements to now be used to deliver health care during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.  


Help Protect People with Mental Illness during the Covid-19: Ensure no one is left behind- As the Senate prepares the third in a series of COVID-19-related relief bills, please urge your Senators to ensure people affected by mental illness can maintain their treatment, get health and mental health coverage, access needed supports, and lift up the nonprofits they depend on, like NAMI.

Integrative Health

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.