September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and with the effects COVID-19 is having on the mental health community, this is a great time to remind yourself how to recognize the signs if your patients are considering suicide and what you can do to help.
Coping with COVID-19 stressors
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), stress during an infectious disease outbreak such as COVID-19 can cause increased public fear, worsened chronic and mental health problems, increased usage of substances such as nicotine, alcohol, and drugs, and can affect sleep and eating patterns dramatically.
Some healthy ways patients can deal with the stress and potentially mitigate serious mental health concerns include:
- Learning what to do when sick and where to get treatment
- Knowing their mental health resources and where to seek help
- Taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories
- Taking good care of their physical health by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding substances
If an SCFHP patient needs additional information or assistance, they can contact our Customer Service line at 1-800-260-2055 (TTY: 711) and ask for the Behavioral Health Department.
Patients can also utilize the following resources for crisis support:
- SAMSHA Disaster Distress Hotline, open 24/7 at 1-800-985-5990
- DHCS CalHope Warm Line, open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. at 1-833-317-4673
- Santa Clara County Mental Health Call Center, open 24/7 at 1-800-704-0900
If the situation is urgent and the threat of suicide is imminent, patients should dial 911 or go to their nearest emergency room.