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‘Social distancing doesn’t mean you’re alone’: City promotes mental wellness amid pandemic

Mental health services available in Indianapolis during pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mental health concerns are on the rise amid global fears of serious physical illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

“Stay-at-home” orders implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 can contribute to heightened feelings of anxiety, loneliness and restlessness, according to mental health experts.

Approximately 80% of Americans were under stay-at-home orders Tuesday.

James Nuveen, a downtown Indianapolis resident, was the only participant who reported feeling “great” when asked to rate his emotional wellbeing during a virtual work meeting, he said.

The digital innovation strategist staves off boredom and fatigue by going for daily runs downtown.

Outdoor activities that comply with social distancing guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are permitted under Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order.

Behavioral health unit officers at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) urged residents to maintain various habits that promote mental wellbeing, including eating and sleeping well, exercising, taking time to relax and socializing virtually.

“If you have parents [or grandparents] that can’t get out, make sure that you’re checking in on them every day,” said IMPD Sgt. Lance Dardeen.

Some people ordered to isolate at home are unable to attend in-person therapy appointments or pick up medication for mental conditions.

The city’s Office of Public Health and Safety (OPHS) implemented new outreach measures to connect community members with mental health resources.

“There have been challenges [with] individuals trying to do the teleconferencing, and units that have been trying to go out to give people their medications,” said Dardeen.

OPHS officials also encouraged people without diagnosed mental health conditions to be aware of changes in mood and behavior during “this stressful and uncertain time.”

Personality changes, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and feelings of hopelessness can be signs of emotional pain, experts said.

Please access the following resources if you or somebody you know needs support.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-TALK (8255)
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-TALK (8255), press 1
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • Visit for connections to non-emergency mental health and counseling resources.