Madison County health experts reminds public social distancing comes with psychological fallout

March 30, 2020

Madison County health experts reminds public social distancing comes with psychological fallout 

EDWARDSVILLE — As measures to keep people apart are in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19,) mental health experts warn that losing daily social connections comes with psychological costs. 

“Constant news reports about a pandemic like the coronavirus and the continued social distancing and isolation from others may cause stress, anxiety, sleep difficulties and depression,” Madison County Mental Health Board Director Deborah Humphrey said. 

Mental health experts say the outbreak and the social distancing may be stressful for people. 

“Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children,” Humphrey said. 

She said coping with stress makes people and the ones they care about, as well as the community, stronger. 

“We are naturally social beings,” she said. “The current limitations of social contact are not reassuring, and it is not healthy being cut off from face to face contact with our family, friends, and even co-workers.” 

The positive news is there are things that the public can to do cope and keep a healthy mind during this time. 

  • Fight the feelings of isolation by keeping your routine-schedule as normal as possible.
  • Get up and get dressed everyday.
  • If working remotely schedule the same work hours, if not, create a list of housekeeping chores, yard work and perhaps some of those home activities you have been trying to find time to do.
  • Keep planned mealtimes with healthy nutrition and hydration (avoid comfort foods, reducing carbs will improve your immune system.)
  • Schedule exercise/work out time, take a walk or ride your bike.
  • Practice mindfulness, take deep breaths throughout the day, inhaling and exhaling several times a day.
  • Relax by listening to music.
  • Go outdoors and enjoy the sun, sunlight is mood elevating.
  • Arrange time for togetherness, engage family in playing board games, puzzles, hobbies, reading and drawing. 
  • Journal positive thoughts daily.
  • Call or FaceTime with five family, friends, neighbors or other persons daily to keep from feeling isolated.
  • Keep your usual sleep ritual and get adequate sleep, use natural sleep aids (darken the room 2-3 hours before bed, warm milk, reading.)
  • If feeling more stressed, anxious, angry or are experiencing depression reach out to a mental health professional who is offering telehealth or virtual visits. 

“The longer the duration of Covid-19 and social separation there is greater potential that coping will become more difficult and emotions can increase to a state of panic,” Humphrey said. 

She said the longer people remain isolated their symptoms will exacerbate and those who have already been diagnosed with mood disorders or other mental health disorders. 

The county’s Mental Health Board funds an array of local mental health services. The mental health board is maintaining communications with community mental health centers and agencies to ensure access is available for persons to talk, seek support or in need of crisis or treatment services. 

“At this time we have not had a spike in call for mental health services,” Director of Business Development at Chestnut Health Systems Jim Wallis said. 

Chestnut provides services for southern Madison County and the agency and mental health professionals are prepared to offer services through their Immediate Access Program. 

Regional Chief Operating Officer with Centerstone of Illinois Inc. Anne Tyree said for they are open daily with a limited staff to assist individuals needing injections or methadone. 

An Open Access program at Centerstone connects individuals residing in Northern Madison County with accessible mental health services. Chestnut is operating similarly in respect. 

Both Chestnut and Centerstone are prepared to offer specialized services that safeguards health by allowing individuals to seek help in the safety of their own home through telehealth or virtual technology. If there is an immediate crisis both agencies have 24 hour/7 days a week crisis lines and response services. 

Northern Madison County
Centerstone of Illinois, Inc.
Open Access (618) 462-2331
24/7 Crisis Line (618) 462-2331

Southern Madison County
Chestnut Health System   
Central Access (618) 877-4420
24/7 Crisis Line (618) 877-0316

Other non-profit agencies provide a variety of individual and group counseling and support services through telehealth and virtual technology. Information and contacts for these agencies can be found on the county’s Mental Health Board Website:

 Humphrey said the Mental Health Board is also a source for individuals to reach out to talk with someone and offer information, resources and assist with connecting individuals with someone to talk with. Contact a county Mental Health Board Information Specialist at (618) 296-4357 for assistance. 

Daily coping tools and mental wellness posts can also be found and shared at: