BULLHEAD CITY — Whether you are quarantined, self-isolating or are simply obeying the governor’s Stay-at-Home order, being locked in your homes with nothing but negative and scary stories and social media posts can have a profound effect on your mental health.
But, a new initiative by Ron Stewart of Sunridge Village and Chaz Martinez at Talas Harbor, is working to not only help, but spread the help around the world.
The two have come up with the program “Take Five to Reach Five” and it’s designed both to help the mental health of people and recognize if there are mental and/or physical health problems with those you reach out to.
“One of the manifestations of people with depression, or even anxiety, is they isolate,” explained Martinez, director of marketing and business development for Talas Harbor. “So to combat that, we want to make sure that people are reaching out to each other.”
Martinez explained that while people are connecting on social media and through apps like Zoom, there’s nothing like person contact.
“There are a lot of people keeping those connections, but we still want to make sure that as a community we are all initiating the ‘Take 5 to Reach 5,’ ” Martinez added. “That means take five minutes to reach out to five people. The goal is to provide five minutes of comfort. ‘I’m concerned about you, I love you, I want to call you.’ I don’t want to spend five minutes necessarily talking about the pandemic. I want to spend five minutes talking to you about if there’s anything that you need that I might know a resource to help you.”
Martinez talked about reaching out to someone over the weekend that he hadn’t spoken with in six months, only to find out that his friend had recently had back surgery and was just now able to start getting around, adding that hearing his voice was really needed now.
“I think everybody could go through their phone list and they know the 10 people they talk to all the time,” said Martinez. “But, who are those other names? Are they people who are kind of outside of your loop that you might want to call and check on?”
As a mental health profession who worked at Southwest Behavioral for nearly 10 years, Martinez said he knows the impact that it has on the caller as well as the person on the other end.
“So my mental health gets increased because I’m being of comfort and consoling somebody,” said Martinez, “and that person’s disposition gets more positive because I called out of the blue to somebody who they haven’t heard from in a long time to say ‘I care about you.’ ”
Martinez said the call not only improves the recipient’s disposition, but the call can have even more meaningful purpose if the caller look for signs of depression or anxiety as well. Martinez recommended following the mental health first aid acronym ALGEE.
ALGEE stands for Assess for risk of suicide or harm; Listen non-judgmentally; Give reassurance and information; Encourage appropriate professional help; and Encourage self-help and other support strategies.
“Encourage hope,” added Martinez. “So if you get on the phone with someone and you start talking about how bad everything is, the key is to encourage hope. It’s also important that they encourage self-help and support. ‘Have you called your church, your women’s quilting group, whatever was your support?’ ”
Besides depression and anxiety, mental health professionals have found there are those who need help with their medication. Many in the community who are unable to get out or have lost some of the support they typically can count on, may be in need of medication for their physical ailments as well as, potentially, mental ailments.
“People need to know that if people need help with their prescriptions, we have resources to help,” said Martinez. “By calling and asking them if they need help with their medication, that could be helpful. If they do, they can call into the helpline with the city.”
The city helpline is 928-763-0182, but you have several other options as well including the Crisis Response Network (877-756-4090), Terros Crisis Mobile Team (928-529-5016) and the Talas Harbor Geriatric/Psychologic Behavioral Hospital at 928-404-6012.
There is plenty of help, and Martinez and Stewart are quick to explain that they simply are trying to help those out there that are struggling to keep fit mentally.
“Take 5 to Reach 5 is part of the solution,” said Martinez. “If you call five and ask them to call five, we could reach millions.”