HOWELL – Christa Riddle, who serves as the township’s Alliance Coordinator and whose mission involves substance abuse prevention, has a word for the current COVID-19 health concerns and that word is “ALGEE.”
Riddle noted that Mental Health First Aid training uses a “5-Step Action Plan,” the easy-to-remember acronym ALGEE, to help offer support during someone’s mental health crisis.
The acronym stands for A: Assess for risk of suicide or harm (call 911 if there is a risk), L: Listen nonjudgmentally (with empathy and understanding), G: Give reassurance and information, E: Encourage appropriate professional help (see the list of resources below), E: Encourage appropriate self-help and support strategies.
“A mental health crisis can result from a range of situations, such as anxiety, depression, trauma flashbacks/PTSD, substance abuse, risk-taking, eating disorders, and suicide contemplation,” Riddle said. “During the COVID-19 outbreak, many people, especially those with pre-existing mental health disorders, will experience increased anxiety, depression, and uncertainty.”
She urged people to be supportive of each other. “Getting proper nutrition, exercise, fresh air, and a few moments of quiet to re-center the mind can also help ease anxiety, as can chatting remotely with loved ones and participating in a hobby or relaxing activity you enjoy.
“Also, remember to communicate properly with youth who may be confused, overwhelmed, or feeling alone due to social isolation. Parents, caregivers, and other involved adults should remain emotionally available, listen with empathy, share accurate facts and information about COVID-19, avoid adding stress to the situation, and model positive behavior regulation,” Riddle said.
Riddle noted that mental health and substance use disorder support are available for residents and loved ones who are feeling the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For a crisis or emergency, such as feeling like you want to harm yourself or others, always call 911 – now or at any time.
The Howell Township Municipal Alliance’s website provides a comprehensive list of mental health and substance use disorder resources twp.howell.nj.us/169/Municipal-Alliance.
In addition, the Mental Health First Aid website has many informative articles on how to cope with and help others who are feeling particularly anxious, stressed, or depressed during the COVID-19 pandemic: mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2020/03/how-to-bethedifference-for-people-with-mental-health-concerns-during-covid-19/.
“Finally, here are a few of the free, 24/7, bilingual, and confidential mental health and substance use disorder support resources you can access for the COVID-19 pandemic and other concerns,” Riddle said.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746; samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255; suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The
Crisis Text Line is 741741; crisistextline.org
For the 2ndFLOOR Youth Helpline: text or call 888-222-2228; 2ndfloor.org