Mental Health Colorado starts initiative for Coloradans to connect with friends, allies, and neighbors
“In This Together” initiative will help build social closeness as we maintain social distancing guidelines ~
DENVER— This is undoubtedly one of the most stressful times imaginable for many. This pandemic drives the message home that our physical health and our mental health are not separate. To combat feelings of loneliness, isolation, and stress, and to get through this pandemic with healthier minds, Mental Health Colorado started “In This Together” as a way to connect people with people—and just to chat. People can sign up on Mental Health Colorado’s website and they will receive a friendly, supportive call just for the therapeutic sake of old-fashioned conversation.
“As a society, we shouldn’t have settled on the term ‘social distancing,’ which is the exact opposite of what’s best for our mental health right now,” said Mental Health Colorado President & CEO Vincent Atchity. “What we need is social closeness, solidarity, and support. In This Together is a way to create a little bit of social contact, all over the state, with a friendly phone call.”
In This Together is for everyone—from older adults living alone or people who just recovered from a surgery, to young people living in remote parts of the state or new parents trying to put workable routines in place. When people listen to and support each other, they feel and do better managing their way through challenges and have a better feeling for what it means to be strong and united as a community.
Mental Health Colorado reminds people to keep a physical distance but to eliminate social distance by taking the time to be there for someone. The shame of talking about mental health has taken a notable shift during this pandemic. It’s not as uncommon now to ask a coworker or neighbor about their mental health or to FaceTime someone just to admit you’re feeling lonely or anxious—this is a positive outcome of the pandemic. Atchity hopes these behaviors will continue long after the threat of the virus is gone.
“People don’t have to go through this, or any, hard time alone,” said Atchity. “We need to be increasingly understanding and compassionate with ourselves and others when it comes to our mental health. Creating healthier minds is a cultural shift and an ongoing work in progress. And everybody can do it.”
The purpose of In This Together is to provide social connectedness by phone, not to provide mental health services. Those who are more seriously concerned about their own mental health should call the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.
Experts suggest that the impact of loneliness and isolation on our health is as detrimental as smoking or obesity. Anxiety is higher than usual worldwide due to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19. Our communities must be prepared to deal with a secondary pandemic of mental health and substance use concerns. Many are predicting the curve of infections precedes a curve of mental health needs. With a revised 2020 policy platform addressing pandemic response and recovery, Mental Health Colorado aims to flatten the latter curve.
“There are many uncertainties right now, but what we do know is that all Coloradans—and everyone in the world—now have a much keener understanding of the vital way in which our mental and our physical health are connected,” Atchity said.
To sign up, visit mentalhealthcolorado.org/in-this-together.
About Mental Health Colorado:
Mental Health Colorado is the state’s leading advocate in promoting mental wellness, ending shame and discrimination, and ensuring equitable access to mental health and substance use care. Mental Health Colorado is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and an affiliate of Mental Health America.