Mental Health Support

by Jacqueline Holden, MA, NCC, PMH-C

Undoubtedly our lives have changed over the past year. It can be overwhelming to think about addressing mental health issues that may have cropped up or intensified during the pandemic. In this article, I’m sharing some tips to consider implementing, as well as resources for further support.

It’s OK if you’re feeling “COVID Fatigue”

We all hoped that quarantine would be brief, and we’d be “back to normal” within a month. It’s understandable and expected that at some point we’d hit a wall. It doesn’t mean that we’ll suddenly stop taking the necessary precautions that keep us, our loved ones, and our community members safe. It does mean that, from time to time, having a safe space to vent can relieve some of that pressure. 

Here are a few tips for managing those conversations, and ensuring that they don’t have a negative impact on your relationship:

Ask ahead of time: Whoever it is, a partner, friend, or family member, make sure they are in the right state of mind to hear you out. 

Set a time limit: Dwelling too much can put you in a negative mindset that can bleed into other conversations and relationships. Usually, about 10-15 minutes is a good amount of time.

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Plan something positive: As a way to transition out of this conversation, and into a positive mindset, plan something fun to look forward to—it doesn’t have to be big! Dropping off a treat to a friend, getting take out from a favorite local spot, renting a movie, or going for a hike on a new trail; choose something that you are excited about doing—and do it!

If your relationship has taken a hit:

Whose hasn’t? All relationships have been impacted by COVID, so here are a few ideas to help get back on track.

With your partner: If you’re in a romantic relationship, focus on “Small Things Often.” This concept, researched by the Gottman Institute (and title of their fantastic podcast!), is key to inviting intimacy and strengthening your friendship. Call out the things your partner does that you appreciate, and make an intentional effort to listen and be curious about your partner’s needs. Invite conversation on how you can mutually support each other.

With friends: Friendships have been especially hard hit because it can feel overwhelming to find ways to see each other without being able to travel to them in person, or get as close as we’d like! Schedule a recurring video or voice call, send a handwritten card, meet for a walk or hike (or just coffee!), and find those moments to reconnect. Remember that it can be for whatever time you have available—even 15 minutes is long enough to let someone know you’re thinking of them, and you miss their company.

With family: Family is another tough one, sometimes strained by differing COVID precautions. Create and maintain boundaries that feel right for you and those in your household, while finding the ways that you might want to have contact with family members. Offering ways to connect that align with your boundaries can set the tone and normalize the new ways that we interact with our family. That might sound like, “We are so excited to meet you for a walk this weekend! The kids are excited to show you their new masks.” If you have to decline an invitation, that might sound like, “We’d love to get together next week when the weather clears up and we can visit outside. Could we video chat tomorrow instead?”

With your children: Kids have been through quite a bit in this last year. Although they are resilient, parents need to acknowledge that the impact this has had can mean more behaviors that look like “misbehavior.” Take a breath before responding to a situation, and ask yourself, “what might they be trying to tell me?” Janet Lansbury, a positive parenting expert, has a wonderful podcast called “Unruffled,” if you’re interested in learning more. Give yourself and your kids a break—you’re all continuing to try and balance work/school/life under extreme circumstances.

If you are experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms, consider accessing the resources listed below, and talking with your medical care provider. 

Washington County Crisis Line: 503-291-9111

Multnomah County Crisis Line: 503-988-9888

Baby Blues Connection: Offers free support for parents experiencing pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders, Warmline/Text: 800-557-8375

Portland Therapy Center: local therapist directory

Lines for Life: Offers specific support for drug and alcohol addiction, suicide, military, racial equity, and senior loneliness, 800-273-8255

Find more mental health help resources in our four-page supplement. 

Jacqueline Holden is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Oregon. She specializes in couples and perinatal mental health. Her private practice information, as well as registration for classes on perinatal mental health and Gottman Bringing Baby Home workshops can be found on her website,