Mental Health Resources

April 2, 2020


Here is a compilation of assembled information and links to supportive organizations and hotlines providing mental support.


Thank you to the CT Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity and Opportunity for putting a comprehensive resource together to support people and their mental health.

With the day-today changes and additional challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic, these hotlines and websites are especially helpful and relevant.

Click for Coping with COVID-19 CT


Here is a Guide from the National Alliance on Mental Illness




Mental Health Tips to Reduce Stress during a Pandemic

  • Stay up-to-date about developments related to the infectious disease outbreak by using a reliable and accurate source of health-related information, such as the CDC.
  • Stick to your usual daily routine.
  • Focus on positive aspects of your life and things that you can control.
  • Seek social support from family members and/or friends and maintain social connections.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques for stress reduction.
  • Engage in physical activity and other enjoyable activities.
  • Stress and Coping – The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. For more information from CDC click here.

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health: Stay Connected – Phone or online support




Outbreaks can be stressful

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcoholtobacco, or other drugs

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations

How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

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 response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
  • People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use


Take care of yourself and your community

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Ways to cope with stress

phone icon

Need help? Know someone who does?

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others

Know the facts to help reduce stress

Sharing the facts about COVID-19. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.

When you share accurate information about COVID-19, you can help make people feel less stressed and make a connection with them.

Related: Reducing Stigma and Stop the Spread of Rumors

Take care of your mental health

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Preparednessexternal icon page.

Related: Taking Care of Your Emotional Health



For parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Watch for behavior changes in your child

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Ways to support your child

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it 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 family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

Related: Caring for Children and Helping Children Cope


For people at higher risk for serious illness

People at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults, and people with underlying health conditions are also at increased risk of stress due to COVID-19. Special considerations include:

  • Older adults and people with disabilities are at increased risk for having mental health concerns, such as depression.
  • Mental health problems can present as physical complaints (such as headaches or stomachaches) or cognitive problems (such as having trouble concentrating).
  • Doctors may be more likely to miss mental health concerns among

Common reactions to COVID-19

  • Concern about protecting oneself from the virus because they are at higher risk of serious illness.
  • Concern that regular medical care or community services may be disrupted due to facility closures or reductions in services and public transport closure.
  • Feeling socially isolated, especially if they live alone or are in a community setting that is not allowing visitors because of the outbreak.
  • Guilt if loved ones help them with activities of daily living.
  • Increased levels of distress if they:
    • Have mental health concerns before the outbreak, such as depression.
    • Live in lower-income households or have language barriers
    • Experience stigma because of age, race or ethnicity, disability, or perceived likelihood of spreading COVID-19.

Support your loved ones

Check in with your loved ones often. Virtual communication can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated. Consider connecting with loved ones by:

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Mailing letters or cards
  • Text messages
  • Video chat
  • Social media

Help keep your loved ones safe.

  • Know what medications your loved one is taking. Try to help them have a 4-week supply of prescription and over the counter medications. and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
  • Monitor other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
  • Stock up on non-perishable food (canned foods, dried beans, pasta) to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
  • If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, and speak with facility administrators or staff over the phone. Ask about the health of the other residents frequently and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.

Take care of your own emotional health. Caring for a loved one can take an emotional toll, especially during an outbreak like COVID-19. There are ways to support yourself.

Stay home if you are sick. Do not visit family or friends who are at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Use virtual communication to keep in touch to support your loved one and keep them safe.

What health care providers can do

  • Help connect people with family and loved ones to help lower distress and feelings of social isolation.
  • Let older adults and people with disabilities know it is common for people to feel distressed during a crisis. Remind them that asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength.
  • Have a procedure and referrals ready for anyone who shows severe distress or expresses a desire to hurt him- or herself or someone else.
  • See SAMHSA’s Helping Older Adults After Disasters: A Guide to Providing Supportpdf iconexternal icon.

What communities can do

Community preparedness planning for COVID-19 should include older adults and people with disabilities, and the organizations that support them in their communities, to ensure their needs are taken into consideration.

  • Many of these individuals live in the community, and many depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the community to maintain their health and independence.
  • Long-term care facilities should be vigilant to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19. See guidance for long-term care facilities and nursing homes.


For people coming out of quarantine

It can be stressful to be separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine.

Emotional reactions to coming out of quarantine may include

  • Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
  • Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
  • Other emotional or mental health changes

Children may also feel upset or have other strong emotions if they, or someone they know, has been released from quarantine.

For responders

Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you, and you may experience secondary traumatic stress. Secondary traumatic stress is stress reactions and symptoms resulting from exposure to another individual’s traumatic experiences, rather than from exposure directly to a traumatic event.

There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress reactions:

  • Acknowledge that secondary traumatic stress can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.
  • Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).
  • Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.
  • Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.
  • Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.
  • Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.

Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during emergency response.

Get more information about stress management for first responders from the Disaster Technical Assistance Centerexternal icon (SAMHSA).



Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Emotional Distress

Learn about the common warning signs and risk factors for emotional distress that children, adults, and first responders often experience.

It is common to feel stress symptoms before or after a crisis. Natural and human-caused disasters can have a devastating impact on people’s lives because they sometimes cause physical injury, damage to property, or the loss of a home or place of employment. Anyone who sees or experiences this can be affected in some way. Most stress symptoms are temporary and will resolve on their own in a fairly short amount of time. However, for some people, particularly children and teens, these symptoms may last for weeks or even months and may influence their relationships with families and friends. Common warning signs of emotional distress include:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and things
  • Having low or no energy
  • Having unexplained aches and pains, such as constant stomachaches or headaches
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Excessive smoking, drinking, or using drugs, including prescription medications
  • Worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty but not sure why
  • Thinking of hurting or killing yourself or someone else
  • Having difficulty readjusting to home or work life

For those who have lived through a natural or human-caused disaster, the anniversary of the event may renew feelings of fear, anxiety, and sadness. Certain sounds, such as sirens, can also trigger emotional distress. These and other environmental sensations can take people right back to the disaster, or cause them to fear that it’s about to happen again. These “trigger events” can happen at any time.


Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Children and Teens

Children are often the most vulnerable of those impacted during and after a disaster. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a growing body of research has established that children as young as infancy may be affected by events that threaten their safety or the safety of their parents or caregivers.

Disasters are unfamiliar events that are not easily understood by children, who can find them emotionally confusing and frightening. During the time of turmoil, they may be left with a person unfamiliar to them and provided with limited information. Some warning signs of distress in children ages 6 to 11 include:

  • Withdrawing from playgroups and friends
  • Competing more for the attention of parents and teachers
  • Being unwilling to leave home
  • Being less interested in schoolwork
  • Becoming aggressive
  • Having added conflict with peers or parents
  • Having difficulty concentrating

For teens, the impact of disasters varies depending on how much of a disruption the disaster causes their family or community. Teens ages 12 to 18 are likely to have physical complaints when under stress or be less interested in schoolwork, chores, or other responsibilities.

Although some teens may compete vigorously for attention from parents and teachers after a disaster, they also may:

Children and teens most at risk for emotional distress include those who:

  • Survived a previous disaster
  • Experienced temporary living arrangements, loss of personal property, and parental unemployment in a disaster
  • Lost a loved one or friend involved in a disaster

Most young people simply need additional time to experience their world as a secure place again and receive some emotional support to recover from their distress. The reactions of children and teens to a disaster are strongly influenced by how parents, relatives, teachers, and caregivers respond to the event. They often turn to these individuals for comfort and help. Teachers and other mentors play an especially important role after a disaster or other crisis by reinforcing normal routines to the extent possible, especially if new routines have to be established.

Access SAMHSA publications on helping youth cope with disaster-related emotional distress:

Learn about coping tips for dealing with natural and human-caused disasters.


Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Adults

Adults impacted by disaster are faced with the difficult challenge of balancing roles as first responders, survivors, and caregivers. They are often overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of responsibility and immediate task of the crisis response and recovery at hand. They must also take the time to address their own physical and emotional needs as well as those of their family members and community.

Warnings signs of stress in adults may include:

  • Crying spells or bursts of anger
  • Difficulty eating
  • Losing interest in daily activities
  • Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or hopeless
  • Avoiding family and friends

Adults most at risk of experiencing severe emotional stress and post-traumatic stress disorder include those with a history of:

  • Exposure to other traumas, including severe accidents, abuse, assault, combat, or rescue work
  • Chronic medical illness or psychological disorders
  • Chronic poverty, homelessness, or discrimination
  • Recent or subsequent major life stressors or emotional strain, such as single parenting

Adults most at risk for emotional stress include:

  • Those who survived a previous disaster
  • Those who lost a loved one or friend involved in a disaster
  • Those who lack economic stability and/or knowledge of the English language
  • Older adults that may lack mobility or independence

As with children and teens, adults also need time to get back into their normal routine. It is important that people try to accept whatever reactions they have related to the disaster. Take every day one-at-a-time and focus on taking care of your own disaster-related needs and those of your family.

Read SAMHSA’s Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Managing Stress – 2007 for additional information. Learn about coping tips for dealing with natural and human-caused disasters.


Warning Signs and Risk Factors for First Responders and Recovery Workers

First responders and recovery workers include:

  • Fire fighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, 911 operators, and other fire, emergency, and medical personnel
  • Military service men and women
  • Clergy
  • Staff and volunteers serving with disaster-relief organizations, including sheltering, animal rescue, food service, and crisis counseling

First responders and recovery workers are not only physically and emotionally tested during an emergency, but they also may have loved ones in the area for whom they are concerned. They also are often the last to seek help for work-related stress.

Warnings signs of stress in responders and recovery workers may include:

  • Experiencing a rapid heart rate, palpitations, muscle tensions, headaches, and tremors
  • Feeling fear or terror in life-threatening situations or perceived danger, as well as anger and frustration
  • Being disoriented or confused, having difficulty solving problems, and making decisions
  • Engaging in problematic or risky behaviors, such as taking unnecessary risks, failing to use personal protective equipment, or refusing to follow orders or leave the scene
  • Becoming irritable or hostile in social situations, resorting to blaming, and failing to support teammates

First responders and recovery workers most at risk for emotional distress include those who have experienced:

  • Prolonged separation from loved ones
  • Life-threatening situations
  • Previous deployments that caused disruptions in home or work life
  • Trauma from having witnessed or been exposed in some way to difficult stories of survival or loss

For first responders, being prepared for the job and strengthening stress management skills before a disaster assignment is the best protection from stress. Responder stress can be diminished by practicing for the disaster role, developing a personal toolkit of stress management skills, and preparing themselves and loved ones for a disaster.

Get information in SAMHSA publications on helping first responders and recovery workers:

Learn about coping tips for dealing with natural and human-caused disasters.


Intimate Partner or Family Violence

Disasters can be extremely disruptive to individual families and community routines, leading to stress and inviting all types of violent behavior, including intimate partner violence or family violence. Women and girls can be particularly at risk. Following a disaster, resources for reporting violent crimes may be temporarily suspended or unavailable. For women and girls who have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or family violence, this can further heighten their sense of isolation and vulnerability.

Before, during, and after a disaster, what may seem like fighting between intimate partners or family members may actually be a symptom of a larger pattern of abuse. Further, during the response and recovery phase after a disaster, the risk for violence against women and girls becomes greater. These disaster survivors may become displaced from their homes and moved to shelters or temporary housing, where they encounter overcrowded, co-ed living conditions and a lack of security, among other things.

If you or someone you care about is or may be experiencing intimate partner, sexual, or family abuse or violence, call the Disaster Distress Helpline. Other resources are also available:


State Resources at the Administration on Aging, National Center on Elder Abuse