At their joint worksession on Thursday, April 30th, the Board of County Commissioners and Board of Health made the deliberate decision to immediately begin using the term “Physical Distancing” instead of “Social Distancing” when referring to keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. The term “Physical Distancing” replaces “Social Distancing” on the County’s COVID-19 website, documents, and communications going forward. An overarching goal of this change is to recognize that while creating physical distance between individuals is important for curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, it remains vitally important to stay socially connected while the pandemic emergency response is ongoing.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States and here in Summit County we are keenly aware of the impacts physical isolation can have on mental wellbeing. While it is important to be careful with our physical proximity to other people right now, it is equally important to take care of ourselves and check in on friends, family, and neighbors.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The stress and anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and emergency response is affecting individuals in our Summit County community in different ways. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the COVID-19 response, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
- People who have mental health conditions and substance use challenges
Emotions are running high as we each adjust to our own unique situations. It is important to know that everyone is coping with this pandemic in their own way, and some people are having an easier time than others. As Building Hope Summit County so aptly puts it, “It’s okay to not feel okay right now.” Whether you are feeling isolated, anxious about your health, stressed about uncertainty, or experiencing any other difficult feelings, please reach out for help. If you feel comfortable talking to friends or family about your emotions, do so. There are also community resources available to help.
- Building Hope: A community-wide mental health initiative that lists contact information for a variety of mental health professionals, support groups and other mental health resources. Grief Support is temporarily available from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in-person at the Building Hope office in Frisco, or via phone at 970-455-8390.
- FIRC Mental Health Navigators: English or Spanish 970-262-3888
- Colorado Crisis Services: Free, confidential, professional and immediate support for any mental health, substance use or emotional concern, 24/7/365. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional.
- Families, staff, and students of Summit School District are eligible for up to 12 free therapy sessions with a local therapist. This is support is made possible with the 4A mental health dollars that the voters generously approved in November 2019.
- Parenting tips and tools available on Building Hope’s English and Spanish Facebook pages, as well as on Instagram.
While we are all still getting familiar to the concept of “physical distancing”, let us also use this as an opportunity to take better care of ourselves, our families, and those around us by staying socially connected. Together, we will get through this as a community that is truly the sum of its parts. We each have something to contribute and if we all work together, we can come out of this situation stronger than we went into it.