People are worried about their mental and physical health, their finances, caring for children and seniors, maintaining social connections and getting reliable information, among other concerns. You can find our main takeaways from the poll here, and see all of our reporting around those findings here.
While there are no easy solutions to most of these challenges, there are resources available that can help. Below you’ll find a list of recommendations and places to find assistance with: Mental Health, Unemployment, Food and Nutrition, Connecting With Others, Caring for Children, Caring for Seniors, Reliable Sources for COVID Information, and Resources for Communicating About the Virus.
If you’ve been struggling with feelings of stress, depression and uncertainty since the COVID-19 crisis began, you’re not alone. Whether you’ve been living with a mental health challenge for many years, or are coping with one for the first time, there is help.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-877-273-8255. If you are having a mental health crisis, please call your local crisis line, listed below. For non-urgent mental health support, click the link to your county’s behavioral health agency.
When you’re overwhelmed, it can be hard to know how to reach out, so we’ve gathered a few resources to get you started. But first, here are some general mental health tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
- Be mindful of your news consumption. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. And limit your sources to one or two reliable sources, like the CDC.
- Take care of your body. Critical self-care activities are sleep, physical exercise and a healthy diet. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Find things to do. Do activities that you enjoy or that are distracting. Music, movies, gardening, art, journaling and cleaning are all great outlets.
- Connect with or help others. Talk with people you trust about your well-being. You can chat via phone or video. Finding a way to help others might make you feel better.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness runs a 24/7 crisis text line with access to trained support counselors. Text 741-741. The NAMI HelpLine can be reached at 800-950-6264 Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are non-crisis emotional support lines in four different regions. Find the numbers here.
- The Hope Cooperative provides 24/7 help to people experiencing a mental health crisis who do not pose a danger to themselves or others. (855) 502-3224
Here are a few other resources from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mental Health America to help you find support:
Tools to Connect with Others
For Families and Children
For First Responders
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many sectors of the economy, from retail and hospitality to journalism and the arts. As of May, more than 3 million people were still unemployed in California. And with an extra $600 a month in federal unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of July, people are worried about their finances.
If, through no fault of your own, you’ve had your hours reduced or been laid off from a job where your employer contributed to the state’s unemployment insurance program, you can file an Unemployment Insurance claim. Usually in California, you can only collect up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, but under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation extension, Californians can get benefits for an additional 13 weeks.
Find more information about what benefits are available, who qualifies, and how to navigate the system in this article from our reporter Chris Nichols: Answering Questions About California’s Unemployment Benefits During The COVID-19 Crisis
More can be found on the California Employment Development Department website, including a COVID-19 guide to applying for benefits and list of frequently asked questions. You can use the Ask EDD tool to find answers as well.
Still hurting financially? Check out Onward CA, a coalition of companies and foundations set up to help workers displaced by COVID-19 get back on their feet as soon as possible. Find help with life essentials and employment guidance here.
People whose income has been affected by COVID-19 are worried about affording basic necessities, like healthy food. There are several resources available to people who are having trouble putting food on the table for themselves or their families.
CalFresh, known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and previously as food stamps, provides monthly food benefits to families with low incomes. Those who qualify can get up to $194 a month per household member on an EBT card to buy food at grocery stores.
You can find the basics on who’s eligible for the program on the CalFresh website.
You can apply online at getcalfresh.org or by calling 1-877-847-3663. Find out more about how to apply in your county here.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program serves low-income women, infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating and referrals to health care.
Those eligible get monthly vouchers to buy healthy food such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk, eggs, bread, cereal, juice, peanut butter, soy milk, tofu and more.
If you recently lost your job because of the coronavirus, you can apply for WIC. You can also apply if your income has changed or you are unable to work, even temporarily due to COVID-19. You can find out if you qualify here.
Food banks are charitable organizations that obtain, store and distribute food to partner agencies that directly distribute food to those in need.
You can look up California food banks by zip code here. Individual food banks will be able to tell you all the different places and times you can get food in your community. For example, the Sacramento County Food Bank has a map of places in the county where you can find food.
You can also call 211 to find emergency food providers in your area.
Check your local school district for more information on how and where to receive free or reduced-cost school meals.
The CA Meals for Kids app can help students and families find meals during COVID-19 emergency school closures. The app is free and can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store, Google’s Play Store, and Microsoft’s App Store.
Even as we social distance, staying connected to others is as vital to our well-being as ever. While we avoid getting together in person for the foreseeable future, we can still virtually connect in a variety of ways.
One simple solution is to use video chat applications, like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or Google Hangouts, to schedule regular dates and times to connect with family and friends over video.
Here are a few other examples of social activities you can engage in remotely:
In the NPR article “Too Much Alone Time? Tips To Connect And Find Joy While Social Distancing,” you’ll find more strategies for keeping connected, including connecting online with real-time activities, making and sharing art, and volunteering virtually.
Many community-based organizations and activities have moved their offerings to virtual formats. Call your church, school, yoga studio, etc., to find out what social programs are available online.
With many schools closed and childcare options unavailable, children are spending more time at home than usual, and parents are struggling to keep them educated and entertained.
Whether you need help planning fun (and safe) activities, staying on top of schoolwork or forgiving yourself for doing your best in unusual times, there are lots of tools and advice available. Here’s a selection of articles that explore how to engage kids during the pandemic:
Those 65 and older are at higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19. The CDC reports that 8 out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. have been in that age group.
The best way for seniors to protect themselves is to limit interactions with other people, and to take precautions against COVID-19 when they are going to be around others. In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.
- If you decide to engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions, including washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with others, covering your mouth and nose when around others, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects daily and monitoring your health daily.
- Keep these items on hand and use them when venturing out: a cloth face covering, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if possible.
- If possible, avoid others who are not wearing cloth face coverings or ask others around you to wear cloth face coverings.
California’s 33 Area Agencies on Aging coordinate a wide array of services for seniors at the community level — including caregiver services, food and nutrition support, health promotion and other information and assistance. You can look up the agency in your county using this tool, and then contact the agency to learn more about available programs.
At EngageCA.org, you’ll find a host of resources for getting assistance to seniors and helping them stay connected and engaged, including this Feeling Good & Staying Connected activity guide. You can also find resources by zip code at 211.org.
When it comes to the current coronavirus pandemic, the best places to turn to for reliable, trustworthy information are public health organizations and officials, your local and state government, and local news organizations.
Locally, you can look to your county and its Department of Public Health or Office of Emergency Services for updates and resources. You can find a list of them here.
For state information, look to the Governor’s Office or the California Department of Public Health. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been holding frequent briefings on the crisis (look to his Twitter page for announcements), and the CDPH is keeping track of case count totals and providing other resources.
Federal organizations to turn to for factual health information include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
It’s important when consuming news to maintain curiosity, be reflective about what you’re reading, actively investigate your sources and look for in-depth coverage. Take breaks when you need to — there’s way more information out there than is necessary for you to stay safe and healthy.
If you’re concerned about your family and friends getting the virus, you might want to talk to them about what worries you. There’s no guarantee the conversation will be easy but experts do have advice for getting your message across. Here are some articles that explore how to talk to your loved ones about COVID-19 and staying home: