‘You’re not alone’: Governor, surgeon general share mental health resources

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In his daily address Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged Californians not to neglect their mental and emotional health amid the stress and anxiety caused by coronavirus.

“That stress is manifest, that stress is real, and all of us work through that stress differently,” the governor said. “Some people are coping quite well. Others are struggling, understandably. Struggling because they lost their job, and they don’t have a paycheck. Struggling because their kids aren’t at school.”

“Staying at home doesn’t mean you’re alone,” Newsom said, urging people who need help to seek out a variety of mental health resources on the state’s COVID-19 website.

The site has a checklist of strategies for managing stress and reflecting on the way individual people are processing the angst surrounding a global pandemic. There are also a variety of hotline numbers for issues ranging from elder abuse, child abuse, teenagers in crisis, LGBTQ residents, substance abuse, available in up to 170 languages.

24-hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255
24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or click Chat Now
Call 911 if you or the person you are helping is in immediate danger.

Newsom also reminded Californians to check in with how their kids are handling the sudden disruption of their schedules and environment. “Our children are most vulnerable,” the governor said. You can find resources specifically targeted toward kids here.

Symptoms of mental health struggles don’t express themselves solely as emotional issues, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the state’s surgeon general, explained.

The biological stress response can manifest itself as changes in sleep and mood, increased risk of substance abuse, but also things such as stomach pain and headaches. This is not “just in your head,” the surgeon general said.

State’s COVID-19 tallies

In an update on the statistics defining California’s battle with the virus, Newsom expressed a “sense of optimsm” that the state is “bending the curve” — slowing down the rate at which people are getting sick, so that a spike in cases all at once doesn’t overwhelm the health care system.

Newsom cited a “slow and steady” increase in cases but said it has become more “moderate” in the state, buying California more time to prepare for the eventual peak. He said that was a credit to residents’ compliance with physical distancing guidelines, but also warned against a sense of complacency, as the state continues to scramble for any medical resources it can gather.

According to the official count verified by the governor’s office (other credible sources often produce higher numbers by using different accounting measures), Newsom said 15,865 people in California have tested positive for COVID-19. That represented a 10.7% increase in confirmed cases over the day before.

Crucially, Newsom said 2,611 people are hospitalized due to the virus, with 1,108 in intensive care units. Those numbers continue to rise, but not at the rate they had been previously, according to the governor.

The state has recorded 374 deaths due to COVID-19.

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