How veterans can support themselves during social isolation
Limiting social contact is absolutely the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus. But it could have very dangerous effects for people with depression and those already prone to social isolation, including veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Further, the general fear and anxiety of the public can lead to the “shaming” those looking to protect their own mental health and wellness by seeking social interaction.
Depression, beyond being a common illness, is even more pervasive in those who served in the military and is an extremely common co-occurrence of those with PTSD.
This is an already scary and uncertain time. If you or a loved one suffers from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health issues, please familiarize yourself with the potential dangers of isolation, and find ways to protect both your health and wellness.
- Make sure you are only getting the most pertinent information, and only from credible sources. It is easy to inundate yourself with the news these days, which can contribute to anxiety. Limit your news consumption to a couple of times a day, and not right before bedtime. Try to avoid news on social media, where facts can become blurred or sensationalized.
- Give yourself a sense of control in what feels like a chaotic time. Simple tasks like cleaning or finishing that project you’ve been putting off can help you feel in control and a sense of accomplishment.
- Take time to practice self-care or do something you find therapeutic. Create art by revisiting themes that you’ve worked on in the trauma-informed art program.
- Empower yourself by thinking of ways you can help others, if you are NOT in a high-risk group, consider helping those who are.
- If you see a therapist, ask about telephone sessions or ask for referrals for similar options.
- Reach out to friends and family via text, phone, or facetime. Know that many others are self-isolating as well and may appreciate these interactions.
- Believe it or not, for some, “working from home,” means that there is no quitting time. This can add to stress and anxiety. If this is you, set a time to stop working.
- If you have children who are home from school, there are many resources available that can help them, and you, fill their time constructively.
- Mental health or suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
Many of the veterans and military family members that Homes 4 Families serves live with PTSD or have experienced some type of trauma. A peer-to-peer connection is a key factor of the Veteran Enriched Neighborhood® model. The families who are in the Palmdale program and waiting to move in, have been engaged in enrichment service programming, most of which takes place in group settings. We are dedicated to finding ways for them to continue this source of support, and keeping them healthy both physically and mentally.
- Weekly general support phone group for families to share feelings, suggestions, and resources.
- We are continuing to offer a trauma-informed care workshop to support our families, and as a way for them to continue working towards homeownership, with a weekly Guided Autobiography group. Guided Autobiography is a method for helping people document their life stories. Veterans will be led through themes and priming questions. Writing and sharing life stories with others is an ideal way to find new meaning in life and to put life events into perspective. While connecting with one another on their journeys of self-discovery, participants feel enlivened by the group experience and gain a greater appreciation of their own lives and of the lives of others.
- We will continue to only give them the most pertinent information from only official sources.
- We will continue to be responsive to the needs of each individual family member.
- We will continue to be a resource to these low-income families, for whom unexpected healthcare costs, lost income, economic dips, and scarce food and resources will hit hardest.
Nonprofits are not immune to all of the economic challenges that will soon come. Lost event proceeds, construction delays, and a potential pullback in foundation dollars due to financial market volatility mean that our operations will be tight and challenged. Any support you are able to provide is needed now more than ever to help our families through this tough time, and help get them into safe and affordable housing once the current crisis is over. Please consider donating—every cent matters.
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