Video #9 Transcript 04/01/2020

Good evening Hamblen County.  Today is April 1, 2020.  As always, you may contact Kellie Smith if you have specific questions or concerns you want the Task Force to answer. 


In today’s broadcast, we will focus on one topic which can be a serious issues for our community if left untreated.  Nearly 25% of our nation will have some type of diagnosable mental illness at some time in their life.  About 28% of our workforce have stated they are so frustrated at work that they could verbally scream out their angry every day.  Over 14% of the workforce stated they would physically hurt someone at work if they could evade prosecution.  Approximately 27% of our nation has stated they have no personal friend in their lives.


Even during the best of times, we struggle with a number of challenging mental issues.  Add into this mix, the threat of the coronavirus, loss of employment, social isolation and confinement in homes will only add to this issue.  Many on the task force are concerned not only about the physical wellbeing of our community but also about our mental wellness.   The current situation has created virtually every element that can contribute to anxiety, fear, frustration, and depression.  We all need to be focused on the holistic wellbeing of our family, friends, and our self.  Failure to effectively address the mental and social aspect of our lives during this challenging time can be extremely detrimental to all.


The CDC has issued the following statements concerning maintaining a positive mental state.  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. 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 the following:

Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19

Children and teens

People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders

People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

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 contact one of the helplines listed at the end of this broadcast or call 911 if this is an immediate emergency.


Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include the following:

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

Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment if possible and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website listed at the end of this broadcast.

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.

You may want to consider doing the following if you begin to experience stress, anxiety or depression:

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced mealsexercise regularlyget plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.  

Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

Connect with others through social media, your phone, email or actually write them a letter. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

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


It is important for parents and guardians to realize that 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.

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


Parents may find it helpful to do the following things to support your child during these difficult times.

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.


It is not only the children who may react negatively to the virus.  Those health care providers, first responders, and law enforcement responding to COVID-19 can also experience the emotional toll. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event- including constant care for those with the virus.

Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt) which are associated with poor mental health.

Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.  Don’t always focus on work-related projects.

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.


It also appears that people who have been released from quarantine can also experience some difficult assimilating back into the community. Being separated from others because you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine but some may experience the following:

A wide range of mixed emotions 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


It is often difficult to determine how an individual will response to high stress and social isolation. All of us need to understand that we, and those around us, can easily become frustrated, anxious, and depressed.  It is our responsibility to take care of our self and those around us.  Reach out to those you know who may be most vulnerable to the potential mental dangers of this virus.  Provide comfort, assistance and simply take the time to talk with those who are struggling with our current condition.   Conduct a daily check on our senior citizens, those who have lost their jobs, that single parent attempting to raise three children on her own, who someone under considerable stress right now due to their leadership responsibilities during this time. 


One of my most favorite poems originated from the attempts by the Nazis to eradicate what the leadership considered to be worthless human beings.  The poem reads:


First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


We have listed additional websites and helplines to assist you if you are struggling with anxiety, frustration or depression during this time.  We shouldn’t just focus on our self and think our community will thrive during his time. The Stone Age didn’t end because man ran out of rocks.  People learned to do things better and they used their collective intelligence and energy to move our civilization forward.  Let us be committed to taking care of our community so that others can become strong.  In this way, there will be others to support us when we need their help.