I am no mental health expert.
Even though I have two couches in my office at work (I am talking about my home office set up in the Krause living room) that does not mean I will start taking in patients and asking them how they feel.
However, there are ways that people act in stressful situations that demonstrate the state of their mental health, or at least how they are coping in challenging and stressful times.
This is definitely manifesting itself in the world of social media.
I am beginning to wonder if my new coping mechanism is finding out on social media how others are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. If that is the case, I will definitely be seeking a mental health expert when this all blows over.
If you have interacted with others, whether by phone, online or at a proper social distance, you likely have seen how they are coping.
Among those types are those who have dismissed the entire event as some sort of conspiracy. They are the ones who are convinced there is nothing going on.
Typically, these are the folks who will point out the number of people who have died from influenza each year comparing it to the number of COVID-19 fatalities.
Then there are those who use humor. I have seen a lot of memes and read plenty of jokes about COVID-19. Some of them are pretty funny.
Others, of course, are in poor taste.
Those who use humor to cope are the same type who made jokes about the Challenger space shuttle crash and the 9-11 attacks.
Others get angry, especially at those who are coping with humor. They are the type who take everything so seriously and think everyone else should, too.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree that we all should be taking this seriously, but I won’t get angry about it.
One of my favorite groups (this is sarcasm, which of course is another coping skill) are those who become experts in whatever the issue of the day is.
These are the folks who look for any kind of mistake in comments people are making, and then they go out of their way to make sure everyone knows about that mistake.
Quite often, these people are coping vicariously through others they know who might actually have some level of expertise.
There are those who have hunkered down in their house and will not leave, no matter what. They may not even open e-mails or go online for fear they get the virus. (That is a joke, for those of you experts, I know device to person contagion is not a reality.)
I am guessing these are the people in the future when books are written who are labeled the “toilet paper people.”
Some people cry a lot.
Others become verbose and share flowery language often over sharing.
The news junkies will hang on every word of journalists, and quite often the more sensational the story the more they eat it up.
I know there are other ways people react, too.
I want to encourage you to talk with your kids and to watch how they are reacting.
Let them know that it is OK to feel something and to express that in a healthy way.
I have found myself humming the High School Musical song “We’re All in This Together” recently, because those who cope with motivational messages and cliches have been using this one a lot. (I am sorry in advance to those if you who will be hearing that in your head the rest of the day.)
Find legitimate sources of information.
Share the items you have hoarded (the food shelf will gladly accept your donations).
Life may be different for all of us, but that does not have to be a bad thing.