Tag Archives: mental health

Human Services: Don’t Neglect Mental Health!

This afternoon — as Westport schools mark 6 weeks since closing — town officials reminded residents that despite physical isolation, we all need social connections. They’re key to maintaining mental and physical health.

Department of Human Services director Elaine Daignault says:

When we must stay at home, it can be challenging to maintain connections, and manage new or existing mental health matters. Many of us are learning to live with uncertainty, which requires a degree of patience with ourselves and others.

Identifying and discussing your own anxieties and fears is one way to manage the stress that we all feel. You may also choose to create a daily routine that includes exercise, a hobby and time for yourself.

Sitting with this discomfort is part of the process. So is finding activities to engage your mind and body to relieve yourself from the worry. For those experiencing significant anxiety and depression, please acknowledge that you need help and seek additional support. Start with your primary care provider and/or your mental health provider. Most are offering tele-health visits from the comfort of your own homes.

Many therapists are now online.

If you’re having trouble getting started, or require a personal conversation to determine which options are best for you, Department of Human Services staff are available by phone and/or email Mondays through Fridays. 830 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (203-341-1050 or Humansrv@westportct.gov).

We are happy to speak with you, and will provide resources to support you and your families now and in the future.

We also recognize that this can be a stressful time for families. Westport Together was launched in late 2019 as an alliance between the town, Westport Public Schools, PTA and many local non-profits to strengthen the health and well-being of youth and families.

While in-person events have been canceled, we continue to provide relevant and dynamic content on our Westport Together Facebook page. Click here to see. Stay tuned for more details on excellent panel discussions ahead.

Westport Psychiatrist: Physical, Mental Health More Important Than Ever

Dr. Rishon Stember is a Westport psychiatrist. He writes:

These days, physical and mental health are more important than ever.

As a psychiatrist I am receiving many calls from patients experiencing panic attacks and insomnia.  Unfortunately, this is not unusual.

Dr. Rishon Stember

It is very important for people experiencing elevated anxiety to know that they are not alone. This is the time to reach out for help. Please call or email your physician or mental health professional for guidance at this time. Telemedicine is now the norm.

In my own practice, sessions are by phone and medications are being filled electronically.

Stay vigilant about staying home if possible. Wash hands often. Keep social distance. Get plenty of sleep. Be kind to yourself emotionally.

Telephone friends and family. Don’t hesitate to acknowledge the reality of the situation, but know that it is temporary.

Mindfulness is a a great tool to use. Don’t think about the past or the future; just concentrate on being in the present. Try to take time, and appreciate every small activity you do. Take in sights, sounds, flavors and aromas.

Often, talking to a mental health professional and/or medication can be useful.  As with a headache, meds can be helpful until the headache is gone.

We will get through this. Stay strong, healthy and positive.

Alex Drexler couldn’t sleep. He took his dog on a 5-mile walk. The sunrise helped.

Substance Misuse, Mental Health Survey Now Live

Substance misuse and mental health are national issues.

Local ones, too.

But how prevalent are they? And if we don’t know the answers, how can anyone help?

Today, the Westport Prevention Coalition launches an online survey. It was created by the Human Services Department, in partnership with the Westport Prevention Coalition and Positive Directions.

The anonymous survey will “provide helpful information as the Coalition embarks on prevention and resource development efforts addressing substance misuse, mental health services and overall wellness across the lifespan,” says Human Services director Elaine Daignault.

The goal is to gain input from a cross-section of age groups. It will
complement the youth and parent surveys administered through Positive Directions bi-annually in partnership with Westport Public Schools.

Click here for the survey. For more information, or to obtain a paper copy, call 203-341-1050.