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Mental Health Resources

Battling Caution Fatigue
We are in our seventh month of dealing with this pandemic here in Vermont. By now, many of us are tired of taking the appropriate precautions to keep ourselves and others safe. Caution fatigue is just that - the idea of loosening up on the safety standards that are put in place, either because we are tired of our “new normal” or because no one around us actually has COVID-19. It’s important to not let this feeling get the best of us. Please remember to wear your mask, stay physically distant from others, and wash your hands properly and regularly.
For more information on Caution Fatigue, read the article linked below:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
We know that there are many people having a hard time coping with the current challenges. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a great resource that provides comprehensive information about mental health, as well as resources about dealing with mental health or substance abuse. You'll find information about how to find help, including online treatment locations and telephone helplines that are available 24/7.
The SAMHSA website provides links to:
  • Finding help for Substance Use disorders (, including specific locators for opioid addiction treatment facilities and methadone programs. 
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (
  • Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
  • Resources for families coping with Mental Health and/or Substance Use Disorders
Local Crisis Resources
If you find yourself in crisis, please consider the following local resources:

United Counseling Services
UCS emergency service provides immediate assistance to individuals in crisis 24 hours a day. UCS emergency service also helps arrange more intense levels of care as needed, such as a hospital or short-term crisis bed.

24-Hour Emergency Service
UCS provides emergency mental health services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For immediate assistance in a crisis, call 802-442-5491.

24-Hour Youth Hotline
Crisis workers on call for home visits (weekdays 8 am – 8 pm). For immediate help in a youth-related crisis, call Family Emergency Services (FES) 802-442-1700 or 1-800-360-6621.

Post-Emergency Supports
UCS provides support services to individuals during the difficult time period after an emergency has occurred.
VT Crisis Text Line
The VT Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 support for anyone in crisis in VT or nationally. Just text VT to 741741 from anywhere in Vermont to connect anonymously with a trained Crisis Counselor. 
  • Crisis counselors respond within 5 minutes through a secure platform
  • You get an automated text response first, and then a response from a crisis counselor
  • They work with you until you are cool and calm and have a positive plan for next steps
  • Free for anyone and funded by private donations
  • Staffed by volunteers who first undergo 34 hours of training and access to clinical supervision
  • Their specialists are not therapists, but will help you with active listening which is empathetic, understanding and respectful.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors for your Mental Health
Try getting outside to exercise as a way to reduce your stress levels and boost your overall mental health! Spending 120 minutes each week outside can help you reduce anxiety and promote creativity. Adding a walk or other exercise can improve your heart health, too. It’s important to plan ahead for the weather and make sure that you are practicing physical distancing when going outside in public spaces.
Raising Teenagers: Creating Covid Health Awareness
Parenting teenagers is rewarding. But, as many folks know, it can also be complicated! That continues to be true during the current health crisis. Since Governor Scott has prohibited all multi-household gatherings, more stress is put on families to enforce preventative health measures. Our children’s worlds are getting smaller (again), putting more stress on families to enforce preventative health measures. Please click the link below for an article on how to support these conversations. The article was published in the Bennington Banner on November 11 2020 and written by Megan Gunn, MD, chair of the department of Pediatrics at SVMC:

COVID Support VT

If you or someone you know is struggling to connect with much-needed community resources, know that there are folks who can help! 

COVID Support VT is a statewide program offering free and confidential emotional support and connections to resources for anyone needing help. They offer a wide range of supports on their website

If you or someone you know could use some support coping with the pandemic, reach out to COVID Support VT. Call 2-1-1 to reach a Support Counselor.

For more see their self-care tips and resources flier and daily stress management plan.

COVID-19 during winter: 8 things you can do to mentally prepare

Winter can be a difficult time for some people. Long, dark days coupled with cold weather and social isolation can lead to feelings of sadness, anxiety or depression. The coming winter could be especially difficult as infectious disease experts recommend that we "hunker down" to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Proper preparation can help ease this transition and help you feel mentally ready for a pandemic winter.  Click the link below for an article on 8 things to do to mentally prepare for a COVID-19 winter:



Social Connection and Physical Distance

Being socially connected and having a sense of belonging is crucial as research shows that these impact our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. There are many ways to interact while keeping your distance. Connecting with those in your immediate household can include ice fishing, snowshoeing, or even building a snowman. While connecting with those outside of your house might be more challenging this winter try using the phone, video chat, or even sending a letter. It is important that we talk, that we reach out for support, and reach out to support others. Even now, try to create those positive moments. 





The Pandemic is Still Not Over

No one would have expected the pandemic would last this long, and everyone’s resilience is being tested. Routines have been interrupted, livelihoods at stake, and social supports provided in unconventional ways. But there is finally light at the end of the tunnel: the vaccine. Although progress is being made, the truth is that the pandemic is not over. It will take months before the majority of people are vaccinated. The usual safety measures are still necessary. We all have to continue to do our part in keeping each other and our community safe. Many people are noticing the effect the pandemic has had on their mental health. Here is a link to a website that provides a good summary of Mental Health resources and coping suggestions that can support you in times of need. 




Connection During a Pandemic

The isolation that comes with the pandemic has made many folks feel a lack of connection and belonging. Luckily, there are many avenues of self-care that can help us stay grounded: exercising, Zooming with loved ones, getting fresh air, engaging in a fun activity, getting enough rest, seeking some supportive counseling and more. In addition to these strategies, an idea to embrace is practicing acts of kindness to others as a way to increase feelings of connection and improving mood! The below article explains the connection between kindness and wellness.




Managing Stress

As we pass the anniversary of the first identified COVID case in the country, it is important to recognize how chronic the stress associated with this enduring pandemic has been. Human beings are really good at dealing with acute stress, but dealing with chronic stress can be a very different experience. The article, linked below, focuses on the fatigue and hopelessness that can emerge and gives perspective on how common and normal these responses are in the given circumstances. The author also shares important reminders about what we can do to mitigate these experiences that are so prevalent in the population at this point.




Getting Outside to Benefit Mental Health

Getting outside is important for your mental health throughout the year. Vermont is full of outdoor winter activities, from sledding to skiing to ice fishing, that you can do while practicing physical distancing.

  • Did you know that you can take out snowshoes from the Bennington Free Library with your free library card? They have two adult pairs and four children's pairs that you can borrow for a local walk or hike this winter.
  • The Vermont Fish and Wildlife website can help guide you with all of the ice fishing basics.
  • Riley Rink is a local indoor ice skating rink in Manchester, and there are other outdoor rinks throughout Southern Vermont.
  • The SVSU Winter Fitness Festival starts February 8th. It includes free indoor and outdoor activities that you can complete with your family to win prizes.
While some of these activities cost money, there are ways to save by planning ahead and looking for deals. It can be fun to try something new and getting outside can lift your spirits and give you a dose of Vitamin D.
The Arrival of the COVID-19 Vaccine
It has been about a year since we started hearing about COVID-19 in the United States. The guidance on how to conduct our daily lives is constantly changing. While the arrival of the vaccination is an overwhelmingly positive development, many folks now have a new set of COVID-19-related questions. Please click the links below for resources that may clear up any questions you may have:
Reducing Isolation this Spring
As we know, social isolation is harmful to our health, but with Spring coming many can reduce isolation while still staying safe. As the weather is getting warmer, it is more pleasant to get outside for that walk or other types of physical activities. Even playing a board game outside on the porch can have health benefits. This is also the time to clean up your garden or start a new one. Another key piece to reducing isolation is to make sure you have identified your vital connections. Vital connections are people that are essential to your health and well-being. Finally, get creative and try something new to keep those connections. Share the same book, watch the same movie, or visit a new outdoor space. Have you seen the updated Stark Street Playground and pump track in Bennington? You can also check out one of the many trails Bennington has to offer.
Pandemic Anniversary
This week was the first anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a World Pandemic. The amorphous nature of this disaster may make this anniversary feel different than other disastrous milestones. The anniversary of 9/11 promoted a communal sense of grieving and solidarity, whereas this anniversary may foster a sense of vague anxiety and isolation. The links below elaborate on this concept and gives 12 tips on how to manage and navigate this stressful time. A key point of both articles is that this pandemic is not a singular impactful event but
a series of unfolding personal events that have impacted everyone in a unique way, and that taking some time to reflect on your individual experiences is a normal and healthy part of the collective mourning.
Mental Health
K-8 students continue to receive weekly lessons though Second Step, a research-based, social-emotional learning program designed to improve students’ social-emotional skills, such as emotion management, impulse control, problem solving, and empathy. Students need these skills to take on learning challenges, make good decisions, handle strong emotions, and get along with others.
At the middle school, students have already completed a unit on how to apply stress-management strategies to cope with their stress. Research-based strategies that were presented included slow, deep breathing; reframing unhelpful thoughts; positive self-talk; and progressive muscle relaxation. When practicing progressive muscle relaxation, you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and you relax them as you breathe out. You work on your muscle groups in a certain order, starting with your feet or the top half of your body. When your body is physically relaxed, you can handle stress better. If you have trouble falling asleep, this method may also help with your sleep problems.

For more information on the Second Step curriculum CLICK HERE.
For more information on progressive muscle relaxation please visit CLICK HERE.
Self Care
There are many misconceptions about mental health and self-care. Some people may be reluctant to take the first step when they don’t feel they have the time to fully commit to making lasting changes. Self-care doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly, and you don’t have to do it all at once. Boosting your mental health can be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep, spending time with a pet, or stepping outside for 15 minutes to soak up the Spring sunshine. Check out the links below to read more about self-care myths and discover 31 simple tips to boost mental health. Try to take the first step and try one out this week!
Five Ways to Boost Happiness
There are many aspects of our day to day life that are beyond our control, but we can take some small actions to increase happiness. Check out these five tips that can help bring a little more joy, gratitude and mindfulness to your day!
  1. Reconnect with what brings you joy. Doing an activity you love is a great way to spark joy in your day. So this could be a great time to dust off those baseball gloves and bicycles and spend some time doing some- thing you enjoy!
  2. Get in the zone. Activities like reading a book require your complete engagement and can help boost happiness.
  3. Find novelty in everyday life. Focusing on something that is new to us allows us to live in the present, and can bring happiness.
  4. Put yourself first. That to-do list never seems to get any shorter, but it’s important to find balance in our daily life. Be sure you’re finding time for yourself at least once a week.
  5. Connect with nature. Getting outside and enjoying nature has many benefits such as increasing our gratitude or even showing us something spectacular.
Mental Health Tip
Do you find yourself feeling pretty “blah” lately? Maybe you’re not depressed, but you’re not flourishing either. Instead, you might feel stagnant; you’re not functioning at optimum levels, you may struggle to focus or maybe you’re having a hard time setting future goals. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. It turns out that many people are feeling this way after more than a year of living through a pandemic. There is a name for this feeling: it’s called languishing. Psychologists believe that naming emotions is a good first step in managing them. Once we recognize that we might be languishing, we can take action in an effort to flourish once again.
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant recently published an article in The New York Times about languishing. Grant normalizes languishing and ways to combat it. He suggests finding your “flow” or sense of fulfillment, joy, and purpose. Some ways to find your flow are to engage in “new challenges, enjoyable experiences, and meaningful work”. Taking some time each day to engage in something you enjoy can help you to harness the energy and enthusiasm you missed during the pandemic. Check out Grant’s article from The New York Times below to read more about languishing and small action steps you can take to find your “flow."
Community Dialogue About the Youth Risk Behavior Survey
The Mt. Anthony Union Middle School Youth Leadership Group hosted a virtual Community Dialogue to share the 2019 Middle School Youth Risk Behavior Survey results (YRBS). Please view the recording of their presentation below.