Many tragic events have occurred recently in the United States. Whether we are facing a brutal natural disaster (like Hurricane Harvey or the fires in California) or a devastating school shooting (like the one in Parkland, Florida), it has become crucial for us as a nation to reach out for help and support during the aftermath of these types of horrific events. While some people tend to isolate after traumatic events, the increase in telemedicine options is actually starting to allow more individuals to get easy access to support. If you’ve been struggling with complicated emotions due to a national tragedy, here are some suggestions on how you can use telemedicine to get help.
Find a safe space
Your first step should always to be to determine your parameters for feeling safe. If you come up with a list ahead of time of things (or people or places) that make you feel protected, you can start getting support from others. Feeling safer might mean that you get off social media and begin to connect more with people in your day-to-day life. It can also mean that you figure out which people in your life are the most supportive during a difficult time.
Get online support from peers
One of the most healing things you can do is to talk about your experience and your feelings. The Internet has allowed us to connect more easily with others (despite our location or proximity to the event). So, you can gain a lot of support from going online and joining support groups. These groups (which are usually free to join) can give you an outlet to express how you’re doing and help you to connect with others about their feelings. This connection can help you feel less isolated and can help remind you that you aren’t the only one feeling distressed.
You can do an online search for support groups that apply to your situation, or you can ask your health care team or insurance provider if they’re able to provide information to connect you with a support group. There are also many Facebook groups that can be helpful if you’re just looking for a forum to connect to people struggling with the same issues as you. It can be extremely therapeutic to share your story with others – or just to be the one on the other side lending your support to those in need. The best guideline is just to remember to take a break if you’re feeling overwhelmed; then you can come back to the discussion boards or chat rooms when you’re feeling more centered.
Take a break from media consumption
It’s great if you’re using the Internet and telemedicine to help you cope with a national tragedy. However, if you’re getting bombarded by news stories and images about the tragedy, you could end up feeling even more traumatized. Try setting boundaries for yourself if you notice you’re getting overwhelmed or are emotionally drained. You can even try setting time limits for yourself (like only 30 minutes of media consumption a day, for example). You can get the online support you need during this time, but then you can allow yourself to turn to other social activities, work, or fun distractions to help get your mind away from the tragedy. Self-care is so critical in times of stress, so make sure you’re not letting yourself get carried away with the news coverage of the event or constant posts on your social media newsfeed.
One of the most significant ways you can use telemedicine to get help is to connect with a mental health professional. While support from friends and family can be helpful, sometimes you might require care from a professional in the field to really get a handle on your emotions or symptoms. Because telemedicine allows you to have video chats or connect through email, you can get instant access to a professional who can come up with a plan to help you manage your feelings.
There are also many benefits to using telemedicine for mental health care instead of visiting someone in person. For example, it’s often cheaper because you don’t have added office visit fees, and it’s more convenient because you don’t have to leave your home, find transportation, or waste time making a trip to an office. Instead, you can get counseling or therapy all from the comfort of your home. If you’re apprehensive about seeking help, telemedicine can give you some peace of mind since you can conduct all of your appointments in a place that feels safest to you. Plus, mental health professionals that work through telemedicine can still promise you the utmost privacy and confidentiality.
Use apps to monitor feelings
Another telemedicine option is to use an app to help keep track of your symptoms. After a traumatic event (especially one on a national scale), you can start to notice that you’re feeling more stressed, anxious, sad, or hopeless. By using an app (like ReallifeChange or iMoodJournal), you can track your moods to see how you’re doing. This can be a helpful way to see if you need to reach out for more support or make an appointment with a mental health professional. You can also use apps for guided meditations and breathing exercises to help you feel more grounded and centered while you’re coping with a traumatic event.
National tragedies are, sadly, becoming increasingly common events. If you’re needing support, you can use these tips and telemedicine options to help get you through a difficult and challenging time.