United Way Program In Place To Support Those Experiencing Difficult Times

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It’s not your imagination. Everything is weird right now.

Healthy Roanoke Valley, a program of United Way of Roanoke Valley in partnership with dozens of area organizations, has launched a campaign to offer support to those experiencing increased stress during this unprecedented time of upheaval in our lifetimes.

At healthyrv.org/normal/, you’ll find information on organizations and self-care practices to help deal with the depression and anxiety that many people are feeling right now. And we’re certainly not alone, as more than half of all adults in this country report their mental health was negatively impacted by stress and worry over the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Many of us have family stories of our ancestors weathering very difficult times, so we know that it can be done. But we have not been in this place before – these are not normal times for us and we all have different ways to cope.  We want to encourage you to find positive and effective ways to find your new normal,” said Lynn McDowell, Division Director of Prevention & Wellness at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare.  McDowell is also a member of the Healthy Roanoke Valley task force.

Centered around the healthyrv.org/normal/ website is a public service campaign to remind people to ask for help if they’re feeling sad, alone, and hopeless.

“People aren’t used to this kind of extended period of uncertainty, we aren’t built for it.  At the same time, we feel like we need to persevere, to do our best to act like everything is OK.  That can lead to all kinds of anxiety and fear,” said Jeremy Holmes, Director of Ride Solutions, and a member of Healthy Roanoke Valley’s Mental Health Action Team (MHAT) and Wellness Action Team (WAT). “We want Roanokers to know they aren’t alone in feeling like this, that everything is weird for everyone.  As a community, we can come together to help everyone feel a bit more normal. It often starts with just asking for help.”

The healthyrv.org/normal/ website provides a listing of local mental health and substance abuse services, as well as self-help practices to soothe the mind, body and soul.  There’s also a section of encouraging images to share, and blogs from area residents and experts sharing their own coping techniques for stress.

This messaging campaign and additional mental health services are made possible through gifts to United Way of Roanoke Valley.