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SLO County Mental Health Services recommends virtual therapy during isolation

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Posted at 9:18 AM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 17:18:37-04

The month of May is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health and amid the pandemic, which has forced millions of people to isolate at home, experts say attention to mental well being is more important now than ever.

California's shelter at home order is designed to limit the spread of coronavirus. But the very isolation meant to keep us physically healthy may come at the cost of our mental health.

Since the outbreak in the U.S., 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment, including nearly 20 percent of California's workforce.

San Luis Obispo County Mental Health Clinician Breanne Salmon said virtual counseling sessions can help reduce the mental fog many of us feel while stuck at home and thrown off our daily routines.

Though Salmon works primarily with veterans, she said her clients, like anyone with past trauma, may find this time of isolation especially difficult.

"Any time we're under stressful situations, that can trigger our symptoms to increase in any mental health condition," Salmon said. "So the best thing is to bring yourself to the moment, some mindfulness, exercise is always a good idea."

San Luis Obispo County Mental Health Services is connecting people with local services, like virtual therapy, which allows patients to speak with therapists from the comfort of home.

Salmon said most insurance companies do cover these services.

The CARES Act, which was signed in March, Includes $425 million for mental health services. Advocates are pushing for more in future stimulus bills.

One thing Salmon suggests for anyone feeling lonely but not quite ready to engage in therapy is to get some exercise.

Whether it's a walk outside or yoga at home, movement can help clear the mind.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the suicide hot line at 800-783-0607.