Caring for Your Mental Health in the Era of COVID-19

Taking care of your mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is just as important as taking care of your physical health. While the outbreak may be stressful, especially for those who already experience mental health conditions, it is important to take care of yourself and you loved ones during these uncertain times.
The CDC has developed some guidelines for those who are having trouble coming with the fear and anxiety of the situation while our communities recover.
Things you can do to support yourself:
  • Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
  • Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
  • Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
How to support your child during the outbreak:
  • Take time to talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand.
  • Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know if is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the event. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Help your child to have a sense of structure. Once it is safe to return to school or child care, help them return to their regular activity.
  • Be a role model; take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members and rely on your social support system.
What are quarantine and social distancing?
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
  • Social distancing means remaining out of places where people meet or gather, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, rideshare), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others.
If any of your stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row, contact a healthcare provider. Know you are not alone and there is help if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline : 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)  
Crisis Text Line: Text PA to 741741


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During this unprecedented global pandemic, Mental Health America of Southwestern PA is taking the health and well-being of our community, clients, and staff very seriously. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we will practice social distancing and have temporarily closed the office to the public to protect and care for those who work with us, our clients, and the public.

All non-essential services have been suspended temporarily and vital services are operating in a limited capacity. No walk-in clients are accepted.

We are all in this together. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will follow guidance from public health officials and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, so we can continue to support our clients and communities as needed.

For more information about COVD-19 and what you can do to keep healthy and safe, visit the Centers for Disease Control website or for information about managing your mental health during these uncertain times.

2020 Innovations

Mental Health America of Southwestern PA (MHA-SWPA) is dedicated to breaking down barriers and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health and substance use disorders. It has been our honor to be able to provide services to individuals in our community, while educating thousands about taking charge of their mental health. It is through events such as Innovations that these life-changing activities are possible.

Since 2002, MHA-SWPA has recognized individuals, organizations, and businesses from Southwestern Pennsylvania who are making a difference in the lives of those who experience mental health and substance use disorders. 

We are pleased to announce the following winners of the 2020 Innovations Awards:

Lifetime Achievement

Stephen Christian-Michaels; Chief Strategy Officer at Wesley Family Services

Stephen has been a fixture in Western Pennsylvania mental health services for more than 22 years when he came to Family Services from Chicago. In those years, he has been a leader in behavioral health, working on developing systems and programs that break the mold of recovery and behavioral health care, and is passionate about creating the public policy and funding models to create independence for the individuals served. He was critical in navigating the merger between Family Services and Wesley Spectrum which took place in 2017. He is truly a strategic leader.


Fred Rogers Center

The mission of the Fred Rogers Center is to stay true to the vision of Fred Rogers, who was a pioneer of talking to children about mental health. The Center is home to the Fred Rogers Archive which contains more than 18,000 items used to create programming that in turn perpetuate Fred's legacy.

Community Advocacy

Sally Anne Novak, Community Volunteer

For nearly three decades, Sally Anne has worked to improve the lives of others through her service to the community. She is an active volunteer at many local organizations, including establishing a patient advocacy program at Magee Women's Hospital for women undergoing invasive testing for breast cancer, and dedicating her time at Excela Health.


Barbara Ferrier, Community Volunteer

Barbara's focus has always been one of promoting positive opportunities for members of the community. She has served, and continues to serve, the community through her work as a board member for the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, Westmoreland Cultural Trust, and on the Board of Trustees for Westmoreland County Community College. Additionally, she is active in numerous other Greensburg-area nonprofits such as Boy Scouts of America, CASA, and Parentwise.


Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS)

Since the October 27, 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting, Jewish Family and Community Services has been leading the community recovery response by providing comprehensive care and counseling to bereaved and injured families, witnesses, and the broader community.


Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller, Freelance Writer

Maryann began her journalism career as a fulltime reporter for the Irwin Standard/Times Observer, and the Latrobe Bulletin in the 1960s. Since then she has turned to freelance writing, has been a contributing author for several local publications and has written about Mental Health America of Southwestern PA as well as Ray of Hope events over the years, as well as other articles about important behavioral health issues

Innovations raises funds to support Mental Health America of Southwestern PA’s (MHA-SWPA) mission and vision, while ensuring the availability of its critical programming to those who need it most. These funds help us continue our mission of making sure that everyone has access to preventative services and treatment programs.

Your support is essential in helping Mental Health America of Southwestern PA to raise funds to support our life-changing programs. Please help us by supporting Innovations. You can download an information packet which contains sponsorship opportunities as well as opportunities for advertising and in-kind donations. If you would prefer to simply make a donation, this can be done through our website.

MHA-SWPA is starting new Support Groups!

Hope & Healing provides help and support for suicide attempt survivors. It will be held twice monthly beginning in March. For more information and how to sign up, see the brochure.
Caring Ones is for those supporting a loved one with mental illness, and also will begin meeting in March. The brochure provides needed details.
 As always, we continue to offer:
Westmoreland Support Group is for anyone struggling with mental health issues and their supporters, and is held twice monthly. Flyer
LOSS (Loved Ones Stolen by Suicide), held monthly, provides support for family and friends who have experienced suicide loss. More info in the group brochure.


Online Screenings: Test Your Mental Health

Do you not “feel like yourself?” Are you going through some difficult life changes? Have you noticed shifts in your feelings, thoughts or behaviors? Take the mental health screening below to find out if you should seek additional support.

National MHA's screening tool currently hosts 9 screens: Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, PTSD, Alcohol and Substance use, a Youth and Parent screen, a Work Health Survey, and a Psychosis screen. Your score does not indicate that you have one of these diagnoses, simply that you may have some of the uncomfortable feelings associated with the disorders.

Once you have taken the screening and received your score, return to the MHA-SWPA website for additional resources.


Next steps following your screening:

If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately.  Please refer to our HOW TO GET HELP page for local and regional resources or dial 911 for immediate assistance.