COLLEGE STATION, Texas — According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 20-25 percent of us adults experience mental illness each year. The breakout of COVID-19 and mandated isolation will not help those numbers.

“We all need to take action to prepare ourselves for anxiety. Even for people who already are ill. Their symptoms may be exacerbated. For example, anxiety, OCD, we’re all supposed to be washing our hands now for twenty seconds now, all day long, just imagine how terrifying that is for someone who already has a distorted sense of reality," said NAMI Brazos Valley board member Erin Wilhite.

On top of reaching out to people virtually or through the phone, NAMI advises you to not let the virus disrupt your daily life.

“We need to maintain a routine and not sleep all day," said Wilhite. "It might lead to depression as much as depression leads to sleeping. So we have to really be aware of what our weaknesses are and prepare for this in advance, be proactive." 

Being physically active and eating well also plays into a healthier mind.

“This is the time not to lock yourself up, but to be with nature,"  said TAMU Department of Public Health's Dr. Marcia Ory. "It may be just looking out of a window, it’s really important to stay with your normal routines. Hopefully those normal routines have involved being physically active. So make sure that you’re being physically active." 

While staying connected to the rest of the world is important, Dr. Ory says too much news and information can be overwhelming.

“Turn off that news," said Dr. Ory. "Don’t be wired in twenty-four-seven, because that’s just going to make you feel very anxious. Make a date with your news outlet, and look a couple times a day. But those people who are just glued to the tv, looking at the numbers jump and jump and jump, you can imagine how anxious that makes them."

Volunteering is also one recommended way to boost your mental health and help out your community during this time of need.

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