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Maintain mental health during outbreak
Assemble a mental health toolkit
The Center virtual coffee
Leonard Kaiser from The Center for Counseling and Consultation shares to words of advice Thursday during the Great Bend Chamber Coffee, held online via Facebook Live.

Help is a call or click away



SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services


or text 66746

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Crisis Text Line: text “Kansas” to 741741

Kansas Department of Health and Education

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Alliance on Mental Illness

text “Nami” to 741-741 or call 800-950-62-64 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Thursday morning’s Great Bend Chamber Coffee came with a cup of mental health. The virtual coffee, held on Facebook Live, was hosted by The Center for Counseling and Consultation.

Getting together on social media during the shutdown can be its own form of mental health reinforcement, said Megan Barfield, Chamber president. “Sometimes I don’t realize how much I need this,” she said.

Leonard Kaiser, a therapist and community liaison with The Center, encouraged people to focus on things that they can control.

“You can control how much time you spend watching the news,” Kaiser said. It’s good to stay informed but don’t spend too much time in front of a TV or on social media. 

On the other hand, social media can provide options to connect with others, as Thursday’s meeting showed. 

“Control what you focus on each day,” he said. “Remember to count your blessings.” 

Kaiser said parents can validate their children’s feelings by letting them share those feelings. “You don’t have to fix anything,” he added. “Answer their questions as honestly as you can.”

Build a stress/anxiety kit

People can be ready to deal with stress and anxiety by knowing in advance what can help them get through tough times. This can include music, pets or photo albums. Take some deep breaths. Take time to laugh and be happy.

Noell Hartman with The Center said a mental health tool kit might also include gratitude statements and physical items such as a squishy or a kindness rock. “Ask yourself, what do I do when I’m having a hard day?”

(Kris Gray-Barnes, attending the live meeting, commented in the chat box at that point. “We try to go out each night and look at the stars.”)

Follow a routine. Even if you’re stuck at home, get up at the same time every day and have set times for meals and going to bed.

Be as positive as you can; take care of yourself.

“If you don’t put yourself first you won’t be able to help other people,” Kaiser said.

Compassion fatigue

Hartman said “compassion fatigue” is becoming an issue for caregivers and others.

“Compassion fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper,” according to

“Give yourself grace,” she advised. “We’re human; it’s OK to have feelings.” Give yourself time to cry but list the things you’re grateful for every day. Look at your accomplishments.

This can help people develop resilience, which is also something they should teach their children, she said. “We all need some resilience right now.”

Her advice is to “take stock of what’s on your plate” and then come up with a self-care idea list.

Items on the list might include taking a walk or a drive, listening to music or enjoying a bubble bath. Be ready to delegate tasks and learn to ask for help at home and at work.

Balance work and home, she added. Create a transition between the two.

Kristian Pearson from The Center shared four areas he teaches for managing aggressive behavior.

• Physical coping strategies - Exercise, getting the right amount of sleep and maintaining a healthy diet

• Creative coping strategies - Art, but also things like cleaning or organizing

• Relaxing - Get away from the technology for awhile; take a break from electronics.

• Spiritual coping strategies - These may include prayer, meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques, keeping a journal and seeking out a trusted adviser or friend, according to

Physical health

Dr. Patrick Stang, medical director at The Center, reminded everyone, “make sure you take care of your other health issues.”

Get plenty of exercise and don’t overdo the news intake, he said. It’s OK to watch the news but “not right before you go to bed.”

Meanwhile, continue hand washing, sanitizing and trying not to touch your face.

Julie Kramp, executive director of The Center, reminded everyone, “We are still here for you.” The Center has a website and a crisis line that are available 24/7.

The Center