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COVID-19 & Patient Care

Serving Maryland residents of:
In our community:

NEW! Free, Virtual Support Group for COVID Survivors 

We know how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been and how scary a COVID-19 diagnosis can be.  That's why we are offering free, virtual support groups through CovidCONNECT.

We encourage you to join one of our free session to talk with other Marylanders who have had COVID-19. Trained peer facilitators host small groups twice a month.

Please note that space is limited to 15 participants and members will be admitted on a first-registered, first-served basis.

Only individuals who have contracted COVID-19 are eligible to register for these support groups.


NEW! NAMI Family Support Group for Transitional Age Youth

Family Support Group (via Zoom) for families caring for TAY youth and young adults (ages 16-21) with mental health conditions. 

The next meeting is Thursday, January 13th, 7:00 - 8:30PM. There’s no cost to participate but registration is required. Click here to register.

The benefits of the NAMI Family Support Group include opportunities to:
  • Share experiences in a safe, non-judgmental setting
  • Learn coping skills
  • Gain hope and inspiration
  • Develop supportive relationships
  • Get first-hand information on best practices and community resources

NEW! Charles County Warming Center
Charles County Government is opening a warming center from 2PM to 8PM today, Jan. 4 at the Port Tobacco Recreation Center (8190 Port Tobacco Road, Port Tobacco). Any residents in need of power may report to the warming center. Residents can bring their charging cords to charge devices and other essentials. Food will not be provided. Please enter the building through the south entrance of the gymnasium. Residents must bring a mask and wear it inside of the building.

Calvert County’s annual Safe Nights 

Calvert County’s annual Safe Nights program providing winter shelter for people without housing will run Dec. 19, 2021 through Feb. 27, 2022.

Safe Nights provides winter protection for Calvert County’s homeless population by offering shelter in a clean and safe environment. Host shelters will provide a warm bed and breakfast, a bag of lunch and dinner. Shelter hours are 7PM to 7AM, seven days a week.

To qualify, individuals must:
  • Be without a fixed residence
  • Show identification
  • Show proof of Calvert County residency
  • Be ambulatory and capable of self-care
  • Be older than 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • Pass a background check
  • Sign the guest shelter agreement and agree to abide by its provisions
  • A one-time in-person registration is required each season. Walk-ins will not be accepted. Call Safe Nights of Calvert County beginning Dec. 3, 2021, at 443-486-8670 for more information.
Safe Nights is working with the Calvert County Health Department to safely operate with precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Program volunteers will provide instructions throughout program registration and participation.

Those in need of shelter before Safe Nights opens can receive assistance by contacting the Department of Social Services at 443-550-6900; the Department of Public Safety at 410-535-1600, option 6, during regular business hours; or the Calvert County Emergency Communications non-emergency line at 410-535-3491 after hours.

Other CovidCONNECT Support Groups
Visit CovidCONNECT and scroll down to Virtual Support Groups to learn more and to register. Past webinars are also available.

**Maryland - COVID-19**
       - Testing
       - Vaccines 
Ask An Expert: How to Protect Your Mental Health During the Omicron Surge

By Sarah Simon 
Published on January 04, 2022
Fact checked by Angela Underwood
Image: Health Share of Oregon

Key Takeaways
  • It's normal, even expected, to struggle during a massive global strategy like the current pandemic.
  • This latest Omicron, winter surge will likely stir complicated feelings.
  • Thoroughly acknowledging how you're feeling and talking to someone about it can help.
Just as we enter the depths of the winter season, a new surge in cases is beginning to unfold. The most recently identified COVID variant, Omicron, has only been known about for a little over a month, yet it's already accounting for the highest rate of new cases since the start of the pandemic in the U.S.

Jeremy Lormis, PhD, LPC, lead faculty advisor of the clinical mental health counseling program at the University of Phoenix, told Verywell that just the week before Christmas, he'd learned of a couple of clients who had their holiday plans upended due to the virus.

"A whole part of their family wound up contracting COVID, so then other family members were just frightened, and now there's this buildup," he said. "[People are wondering if] every four to six months, this is what life is going to be. Are we just going to have one new variant after the other?"

Researchers are gathering data to better understand Omicron, but it has been found to spread more easily than the original virus, as well as be able to cause infection regardless of vaccination status.1 Still, the vaccines are protecting against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Regardless of how Omicron works, the mental health consequences are certain. COVID whiplash, a diminishing sense of hope, and seasonal depression are all colliding to create the perfect storm for many people. As Lormis said, the seemingly unending nature of the pandemic may be particularly difficult to deal with in the coming months.

The Pandemic Raised Mental Health Awareness. Will It Last?
Although vaccines, boosters, and pills are giving us tools to deal with and prevent further suffering, it's perfectly reasonable to struggle during a massive global tragedy. If and when you have time, Lormis suggested a few activities you can work into your days in order to cope and feel better.

What This Means For You
You can find a COVID-19 vaccine near you by going to vaccines.gov. To find mental health treatment organizations like SAMHSA, Better Help, and Crisis Text Line can point you in the right direction.

How will this surge possibly impact mental health?
Lormis: I think there's a lot of building anxiety. People are just unsure of what the future is going to hold. Maybe they're not able to be with family when they would like to be, or maybe they're reminded of losses. All of those things can compound. And then you add to that seasonal effect and fatigue. This could be a very challenging time.

What are some ways people can cope if they're struggling?
Lormis: I don't think there's any single recipe that works for everybody. Some of it is just understanding ourselves and what works. Self-awareness begins by recognizing, "Hey, I'm just feeling really anxious about this in a way that I haven't, or I'm just feeling really sad in a way that I haven't." Then pause long enough to do some self-evaluation and acknowledge it. Sometimes we tend to pretend it doesn't exist.

There's a large percentage of people in the United States who, when they start to feel some sort of physical symptom or internal pain, think that if they ignore it long enough it'll go away. We tend to do that with mental health, too.

How Did COVID Change Addiction Treatment?
The tendency is to think, "Maybe I'm feeling a little anxious or a little sad, but I'll just ignore it and it'll go away." Sometimes it does work that way, but there are times when it doesn't. Just being aware of it can help. We can try to be honest with ourselves and say, "You know what? I am kind of sad, anxious, worried, or lonely right now."

The next step goes hand in hand with acknowledging it. Self-awareness involves not being afraid to talk to somebody about it. That somebody can be a close friend or a family member who you can trust. Just talking about it can sometimes help. You can say, "This latest version of the coronavirus is now starting to impinge on our ability to interact with friends and be involved in social settings. I'm just really getting tired of it. I'm frustrated and worried if life is ever going to be like it was before."

So first acknowledging what's going on inside, then talking about it with somebody who you trust. What comes next?
Lormis: You need to make sure you're not neglecting taking care of yourself. That could be as simple as going out and being outside on a sunny day. Even if it's cold, if the sun is shining, go outside. If you can go for a walk, any sort of exercise is good. Exercise provides a very natural formula for a mood boost due to the endorphins that are released. You don't have to do an extreme workout. Just a simple walk can help produce that.

So if you start to think, "I'm really isolated and lonely. I'm really sad," it might be a good time just to open the door, go outside, go for a walk, and see the world around you.

Will We Wear Face Masks Forever?
You should also engage in some self-care more broadly. What do you like to do? Are you doing the things that make you happy? In the wintertime, people lose their rhythm because they become more sedentary. It might be time to think about an indoor hobby. Engaging in hobbies, learning a new skill, learning some new thing can be helpful.

I read an interesting article yesterday about Martha Stewart—one of the things that helped her while she was in prison was learning how to knit. And I thought, whenever we're in an environment where we can't be out and doing the things that we like to do, we can learn a new skill. We can engage. Not that I'm going to do crocheting, but somebody might want to pick that up.

There's also finding creative ways to stay socially connected. This is a theme we've been hearing since the beginning: How can you still creatively connect with friends and family?

How to Protect Yourself Against COVID-19 During the Winter Surge
I mentioned earlier that there was a client I've worked with. This week, their Christmas plans completely fell apart at the last minute. And so I asked, "How can you rebuild it in a different way?" She has a couple of roommates and they're all stuck together, so I suggested that they maybe start a new tradition with friends. It's not what Christmas normally looks like for them, because they're not with their families in the way that they would like to be, but they could still connect. They could still enjoy the day.

It's not one recipe for everybody. If you try something and it doesn't help, go do something else. And then there may come a time when we do want to reach out for therapy.

At what point should someone consider turning to therapy?
Lormis: If you're in a place where you seem to be really anxious, the anxiety is increasing, and it's interfering with your ability to complete your work-related tasks or relationships, it might be time to reach out to a therapist. If your sadness just isn't going away, reach out. It doesn't have to be the first step you take, but it is an option and it can prove to be very helpful and beneficial.

Omicron Is Spreading Quickly. What Can We Expect in the New Year?
There are great treatment options out there that are proven to be very helpful and very effective. And it's not like you have to be in therapy for the rest of your life. Sometimes just getting four, five, or eight sessions is sufficient to give you a little boost.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our verywell coronavirus news page.

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CARF International, a group of companies that includes CARF Canada and CARF Europe, is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services. Toll free (888) 281-6531. www.carf.org 

If you are experiencing a mental health medical emergency, call 911 or go immediately to the closest emergency room.