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Last year we experienced rapid changes in our mental health/behavioral health programs. As a result of the pandemic, programs that provided critical services stopped or changed seemingly almost overnight. Individuals who relied on those services found themselves scrambling to obtain benefits, including meeting with their outpatient mental health staff, obtaining medication delivery, or meeting in person with their support systems. Unfortunately, we were not as prepared as we should have been. As we enter into 2022, let us spend some time thinking about preparedness.
Being able to communicate with others is essential. Attempting to live your life without the help or assistance of anyone else is unrealistic and shortsighted. God did not create man to live in isolation or to exist in a vacuum hidden away from other people. Having people in your life who support you can be a significant factor in your ability to fulfill the plan of God for your life. In addition, supportive people can help strengthen, encourage, and provide you with needed resources.
So reach out to other people. Start thinking about the people you interact with and the role that they can play in your life during an emergency. Can’t think of anyone to include in your support circle? Then start building a support network by developing relationships and looking for opportunities to network and interact. Remember, all of us will need someone to help us (Hattfield, 1998).
But how do you communicate with people outside of your home, and how can they connect with you? Ask yourself these questions and make a list. During the present pandemic, people suddenly were separated from their support systems, and they could not obtain the tangible products and support needed. If a situation like this occurred again in which you could not readily communicate with others, how would you do it? Take a look at some ideas listed below:
Government Free Phone—If you or your loved one are in a certain income bracket, you are eligible for a “Free Phone” through the government. So if you do not have a phone, please get one now. These phones can help you stay connected to your clinical support and services team, not just to family and friends. With a phone, you can talk to people, attend virtual groups, and talk with your MD by phone.
Develop/update your support list—Take the time to develop/update your contact list. Identify those people you can call when you need support in your life. If you have a list that you created last year, update it. Don’t assume that the numbers/addresses listed are valid. Also, reach out to the person and let them know what you are doing. A lot has happened over the last year. The person on your list may not be available or willing. Also, ensure that someone outside your immediate location can reach you in an emergency. For example, if you live in one state and have family in another state. How would they contact you if communication was lost between you and them? This list should contain the names of your landlord, place of employment, Doctor, church, etc.
Medications—How would you get your medicines in an emergency? How would you get your medicines if you could not get out of your home and your pharmacy did not have any who could deliver? Think about this and plan. I am aware of people who could not obtain their medications for several days during the pandemic. How many pills do you have on hand? What are your options? Talk to your pharmacist
Do you have enough food/supplies? The CDC recommends having at least a three-day store on hand (minimum http://www.cdc.gov/disasters). Those of you living with an illness should consider having more.
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