To understand the impact COVID-19 and social distancing has on our mental health and specifically within the Asian Community in Denver we spoke with Fran Campbell, President of the Asian Chamber of Commerce and a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.
She says it hasn't been an easy time for Asian Americans throughout this pandemic crisis. The Asian community has been dealing with issues around the virus and Asian paranoia well before the virus came to America. Even before March 1st Asian businesses were seeing an immediate decrease in patronage by almost 50%. On top of that there is racial violence and intimidation with reports of Asian Americans being spit on, shoved into traffic and yelled at. For most, going to the grocery store is the only way to get out of the house for a bit. For Asian Americans, that can be dangerous. Fran told us about an incident at her own neighborhood King Supers of a Japanese woman who had been chased out of the store. She says because of that they have been sticking to going to Asian, Hispanic and Italian neighborhood markets. Their shelves are always stocked, and she feels safer shopping there.
For a culture that is very family and community oriented it has been very difficult to self isolate from one another. Fran says she’s lucky, she lives at home with her husband, son, daughter in law, and their grandson which has kept them busy. She gives herself one hour a day to listen to the news then she works, paints, and listens to music.
The Asian Chamber of Commerce of Denver has put together a list of chamber members including local restaurants and markets that are open and doing business at this time. Fran says this is a great way to support those local businesses and show support for the Asian community. The governor of Colorado and the Mayor of Denver along with Colorado based Asian organizations and other agencies are putting out public statements that the paranoia of Asian culture is misguided and misplaced. She is hoping that getting this message out now will mean that in the future when people are focused on recovery and not on attempting to shift blame on Asian communities. Fran has also helped to draft a letter with a cohort of Asian leaders to the big chain grocery stores of steps they need to take to ensure the safety of all their guests. We’ve included the list of restaurants and the letter to the grocery stores below. At this time Fran says the ACC has been busy helping their members get on board with the loans and grant money available for small businesses including helping people sign up for PPP, CARES Act, and other small business loans and grants.
As a long time Mental Health First Aid instructor Fran gave us some helpful tips on what to
look out for with friends and family when it comes to mental health. There are three things to watch out for when someone is going through a mental health crisis: 1) A person feels their mental health is deescalating and affecting their work and they are not able to handle their work load, 2) not keeping up with proper hygiene, diet, and exercise 3) we are isolating ourselves from friends and family. During this time of mandated self-isolation this third piece can become even more difficult to keep track of and take note of but even more so during this time we should check in on friends and family as much as we can online and over the phone.
Community mental health agencies are continuing to provide care and take in new patients via telehealth services. They encourage anyone who feels like they are not able to handle work, take care of themselves, or reach out to family, to call your mental health agency and get help. These agencies include the: Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Aurora Mental Health, Mental Health Centers of Denver, and Community Reach Adams County. Please see their contact information below.
During these difficult and anxiety provoking times Fran suggests emphasizing the normal things you took for granted. Make your bed, do your work, ride your bike, and run even more so than you used to. Don’t let the anxiety of what is going on rob you of those normal things.
List of crisis centers and numbers:
· Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Lakewood, CO (303) 425-0300
· Aurora Mental Health, Aurora, CO (303) 617-2300
· Mental Health Centers of Denver, (844) 493-8255
· Colorado Crisis Center, 24/7 Free, Confidential, Professional Mental Health Support 1-844-493 8255 Text to 38255