May 21, 2020

May is Mental Health Month more important than ever with COVID-19

• May is Mental Health Month has been celebrated in the US for 49 years and mental
health is more important than ever this year. Just weeks ago, we had no idea that our
world was going to be turned upside down by COVID-19.
• While the annual NCCMH May is Mental Health Month Color Run/Walk and other
annual events are postponed until fall this year, the agency is encouraging the
community through placement of signs celebrating mental health. The sign series are
located at:
o Plaza Drive Petoskey – along Anderson Road near the corner of Anderson and
Plaza Drive
o Petoskey Club – in front of the Clubhouse along US-31
o Kalkaska – In front of the courthouse – 625 Courthouse Drive (Birch Street)
o Cheboygan – 825 Huron St. in front of the county building
o Otsego Co. – M-32 in front of the county building (May move in a week to closer
to NCCMH location)
o Rapid City – 7167 Rapid City Road – in front of the New Horizons Clubhouse
o Bellaire – 203 E. Cayuga St. – in front of the county building
o Charlevoix – 6250 M-66 in front of the NCCMH building
• COVID-19 is impacting the mental health of literally every American. While many people
with mental health and intellectual/developmental disabilities regularly experience
social isolation and loneliness, many others are impacted this year too.
o Stroll through a PhotoVoice exhibit to view poignant photographs and
interpretive captions created from personal experiences. PhotoVoice is a series
of group conversations about life experiences and ways of coping with mental
health issues to bring greater awareness to the community. See NCCMH’s
PhotoVoice virtual exhibit on The exhibit is also virtually
hosted by libraries in Alden, Charlevoix and Petoskey in celebration of May is
Mental Health Month.

Getting Help for Stress, Anxiety, Depression
• Stress, anxiety and depression are higher this year for most people.
o The theme of May is Mental Health Month 2020 is “Tools 2 Thrive,” with
practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and
increase resiliency. We can all benefit by boosting our resiliency.
o NCCMH is sharing five “Tools 2 Thrive” on its newly launched website at— creating healthy routines, finding the positive, owning
your feelings, supporting others, and eliminating toxic relationships.
• Dr. Stacey Chipman, NCCMH Chief Clinical Officer, advises people to reach out through
the NCCMH Warm Help Line or Crisis Line if they are having difficulty. It is important to
act early as a preventative before feelings become an overwhelming emergency.
o Increased stress and anxiety related to the current COVID-19 outbreak is normal
and expected.
§ While we are hard-wired to like certainty and protect ourselves when
things feel threatening, we can feel anxious when we can’t control what
is going on around us. You may notice that you are more frustrated with
others or have trouble focusing. You may feel more on edge than usual,
angry, helpless, or sad.
§ Coping skills for dealing with uncertainty will be important. The
movement back to pre-COVID will be tenuous and will not occur in a
straight line.
o There are several things people can do to support themselves and keep
coronavirus fears from affecting their mental health.
§ Remember that we can always choose our response. If you feel stressed,
challenge yourself to stay in the present. When you find yourself
worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself
back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other
sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them.
Separate what is in your control from what is not. Focus on what you can
do. Do what helps you to be calm. It’s different for everyone.
o NCCMH’s Warm Help Line for anyone in the community – act early, reach out to
talk and prevent a mental health crisis. 1-877-470-7130
o NCCMH’s 24/7 Crisis Line for anyone – 877-470-4668
NCCMH COVID-19 Response
• Christine Gebhard, NCCMH Chief Executive Officer, describes NCCMH’s response to
o Services and supports have continued throughout the pandemic although the
manner has changed from primarily face-to-face, office-based contacts to
telehealth and telephone, and community-based as needed.
§ 100% of staff are working remotely.
§ Grateful for special billing codes to allow for telehealth, hope they will be
continued permanently in order to increase access to service, especially
in rural areas.
o Programs which had to close have continued support
§ Clubhouses in Petoskey and Rapid City have continued outreach by
phone, Facebook, and other technology; staff also regularly deliver food.
o Reopening of the offices
§ Strategy is being developed to align with Governor’s reopening stages,
will vary by program and type of service.