It might feel like pressure in the chest or an inexplicably rapid heart rate. Maybe our foot suddenly starts to tap, and we feel the urge to stand up and pace around the house. During the day, our minds can’t focus and, at night, our thoughts won’t let us sleep. Anxiety manifests in many ways and, by now, plenty of residents in the Cayman Islands are familiar with the symptoms.
The islands’ mental health professionals are well aware of the stress and uncertainty that COVID-19 has unleashed on the community.
“It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by news of the outbreak, particularly if you have experienced mental health issues before,” said Health Services Authority psychiatric nurse Dympna Carten.
The influx of negative, fast-moving information can easily overwhelm people and it’s natural to need a timeout and extra support.
Counsellors and psychiatrists have been working behind the scenes to step up their remote capabilities through online sessions, social media support groups and consultations by phone.
Despite the isolation many are experiencing, mental health resources have become more accessible than ever.
The Cayman Islands Psychological Association has partnered with Hazard Management Cayman Islands, for example, to provide a mental health hotline, 1-800-534-MIND(6463).
The CIPA had its first mental health clinical directors’ meeting this week via video conferencing and brought together practitioners from across the islands to share ideas and resources.
Meanwhile, Infinite Mindcare is promoting free 10-15-minute check-in calls and the Wellness Centre has stepped up its social media presence to offer mindfulness and coping tips.
For Cayman Islands students, a private Facebook group, ‘Stay Safe & Chill’, offers a way to connect even while young people remain socially isolated. The initiative, launched recently by the Alex Panton Foundation and government partners, seeks to keep youth emotionally healthy through online activities like yoga and meditation classes, group games, and workshops.
For those who need it, resources and help are available.