Don't dismiss your feelings

Your mental health and the pandemic

September 30, 2021  

Thinking about your mental health may not have been on your mind with all that’s been going on. But the pandemic may be taking a toll on your mental health.

Many people are grieving the loss of friends and loved ones to COVID-19. Some are still picking up the pieces of a lost business or career and trying to figure out what’s next. Parents worry about how remote schooling and canceled activities are affecting their kids.

How are you coping?

Now, more than ever, it’s time to take care of your mental health, for yourself and those you love. Take stock of your feelings, moods, actions, even your social well-being. Are you eating and sleeping well? Do you rely on alcohol or cannabis more than normal?

These are all part of your mental health. Your mental health can affect how you feel every day, deal with stress and relate to those around you. It also can affect your physical health. Depression, for instance, can raise your risk of heart disease and stroke.

People of color, already hard hit by COVID-19, had more stress and mental health challenges in 2020, research suggests. Yet, a recent Anthem study found that black members had 7 percent fewer mental health visits than white members.

You may want to think about getting help from a health care provider if you:

  • Feel down or sad
  • Find it hard to do daily tasks
  • Feel extreme worry, fear, guilt or anger
  • Feel fatigued
  • Use alcohol, cannabis, other drugs or cigarettes more than normal
  • Have major changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Think of harming yourself or others

Where to start

Taking charge of your mental health can help you feel better, deal with COVID concerns and stay healthy! You may find that self-care activities ease your stress and help you feel better. You can try exercise, meditation, taking breaks, connecting with others and doing something you enjoy every day.

Use your health plan

The good news is that mental health symptoms often improve with talk therapy and medications. Both are services that your health plan covers.

Getting the care you need is easy. It’s like getting other health care services. If you’re seeking mental health care for the first time, these tips can help:

  • Start with your primary care provider (PCP). Talk with your PCP about how you feel. Your provider can give you advice about next steps and let you know how your emotions may be impacting your overall health. For example, your provider can prescribe medication to help you feel better. Your PCP can also refer you to a mental health professional, also called a behavioral health (BH) provider, based on your needs. Some BH professionals can prescribe medication and provide therapy.
  • Find a BH provider on your own. You can use our online search tool to find a behavioral health provider in our network. Or call member services at 866-738-4116 (TTY: 711), Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Our team can help you find a provider.
  • Understand your benefits. Tufts Health RITogether covers a wide range of mental health services, such as medications, outpatient psychotherapy (talk therapy), inpatient care, various levels of substance use disorder treatment, and more. It also covers telehealth services so you can speak to a therapist from the comfort of home at a time that works for you.
  • Take advantage of our Good Measures program. With Good Measures, you can work with a health coach. A healthy diet and lifestyle can enhance your physical health. They may also help improve your mood and your mental health.

Feeling some stress is normal, especially during a pandemic. But use your benefits if you think you need help. Tufts Health Plan is here to help you feel your best physically and emotionally.