• Studio ATAO

Understanding Emotional Responses to COVID-19 with DJ Watson

Updated: Jun 4, 2020



Episode 1: Understanding Emotional Responses to COVID-19 with DJ Watson


Studio ATAO’s Community Skillshare is a virtual learning series that tackles specific, actionable and pertinent topics with subject matter experts. Each season (1-4 episodes) is centered on one main topic and raises funds for the expert's charity of choice. Each episode is also paired with a thorough resources document (such as this one) containing additional information and relevant links. Community Skillshares take place on Studio ATAO’s IG Live and we will announce upcoming episodes via our Instagram.

This particular resources document was compiled by Studio ATAO’s core team for our Skillshare with Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) DJ Watson. DJ is a licensed marriage and family therapist whose clinical interests include couples/family conflict, social and cultural stressors, anxiety, depression, trauma and meaning making. We hope DJ’s Skillshare Session and this resource document can provide gentle tips and guidelines for you during this tough time. Please feel free to share this resource widely with anyone who you think may need it.

This is a living, evolving document and is not exhaustive of all resources. If you have suggestions on how we can better improve this document, we would love to hear from you at hello@studioatao.org.

If you’re interested in joining in on the next Community Skillshare, please follow us on Instagram at @StudioATAO. If you’ve benefited from this free resource and want to give back to our community, we are also raising money for DJ's chosen charity Support Staff! You can donate via their page here.

If you are enjoying the series and want to help our team at Studio ATAO, you can become a monthly patron of ours at Patreon. We thank you for your support!

Table of Contents

  • Video of Community Skillshare Episode 1

  • Understanding Common Reactions to Stress and Trauma

  • Learning Your Own Natural Cycle of Grief

  • Maintaining Identity During Crisis and Uncertainty

  • How to Get Started Getting Help FAQ

  • Additional Mental Health Resources

Understanding Common Reactions to Stress and Trauma

Everyone reacts differently to stressful life events. With little warning, COVID-19 has unexpectedly changed everything about our life, so it’s extremely natural that your body and mind are still reacting to the ‘new normal’. The pandemic has impacted each of us differently, so it’s extremely normal to have your own set of anxieties and worries that vary widely from your friends or family. Recognizing how you are responding to the current crisis is the first step towards understanding why you are feeling this way, and hopefully will help you learn more positive ways to manage through our current climate.

Having Trouble Sleeping, Nightmares

This is a common mental response to try and understand what actually happened and “digest” what it means for our own lives. You may have trouble falling asleep because you are experiencing a rush of thoughts and questions as you lie in bed, ruminating on what’s going on in the outside world. While it’s good to spend time working through your feelings on the outside world, disruptions to your nightly sleep schedule and/or reducing the number of hours you sleep each night can have longer, problematic effects. During this time, it is especially important to stick to a consistent sleep-wake schedule and follow a daily routine to help maintain your mental and physical health. Disrupting your daily routine (e.g. what time you wake up every morning) or being tired for prolonged periods of time can throw off your mental balance and impact your emotional resilience to stress (which we all definitely don’t need right now!).

To try and combat this, it’s a good idea to zone out different areas in your apartment so your bedroom is only for resting, making it easier to cue your body to fall asleep. You can also try using blackout curtains or developing a pre-bed routine like meditation. It’s also advisable to not read the news before bed.

Nightmares are also a frequent complaint of those experiencing acute or ongoing stress. There is a concept called dream incorporation when a real life event permeates your dreams. Especially if you are consuming news media before bed, those same ideas may then come up in your dreams at night. Before bed, try to develop a relaxing bedtime routine and do something that helps you physically and mentally unwind: reading a book, listening to music or writing in your journal may help influence your dreams in a neutral or positive direction.

Thinking About It All The Time

For many, the continued uncertainty about COVID-19 may lead you to think about it all the time. This is additionally exacerbated by the constant news coverage, the obvious disruptions to our daily lives and the frequency it comes up in any conversations we have. While it is again normal to spend a lot of time thinking about what’s happening around us, it can become a problem if it traps you into feeling anxious and upset all the time, and you feel unable to break out of this pattern of thought.

It’s a good idea to stay informed of our current events through non-sensationalist news outlets that focus on offering information in a calm, structured manner while taking active steps to limit how much media around COVID-19 you consume daily - especially before bed. Creating a set schedule of certain activities (eating, Zoom calls, working out, Netflix, etc.) may also help keep you on track where your mind doesn’t linger on the news too much.

Wanting to NOT Think or Talk About It

On the opposite end of the spectrum, many who are feeling distraught by COVID-19 want to avoid facing the trauma and do so by refusing to think or talk about anything related to the topic. This is also a natural defense mechanism to distance yourself from the trauma and help us manage overwhelming feelings and thoughts. This may include avoiding places, people or things that make you think about current events and instead, immerse yourself in activities such as social media, video games or TV shows to offer a sense of ‘escape’ from our current reality.

While this kind of denial often feels a little easier at first, over the long run it is important to your mental well-being to fully digest on what has, is and will happen. Avoiding the topic in its entirety is also impossible, given its penetration into our daily life, so attempting to do so may leave you feeling even more unsatisfied, frustrated, and/or grow dependent on various distractions to keep you feeling energized.

To combat this, it’s good to commit to continuing your established daily routines that help you feel more in control of your day, and ease you into scenarios where they may intersect with current events. Keeping in touch with your community, friends and family also help give you a sense of connection and a safe place to discuss your feelings. Remember they are going through the same thing too, so lean on them when you need to.

Feeling Scared All The Time

This is a very normal reaction to trauma; mentally, you could be remembering and reliving what has (or is) happening to you and responding to that stress with fear. Other times, your body may be so tense that it causes you to feel scared because our physiological response will inform our minds of the corresponding emotion to feel.

If you find yourself often feeling scared, try out breathing exercises to help calm your heart rate, breath and mind. If you’re able to get your body to stop feeling scared, your thoughts tend to follow.

If you are feeling fearful about things like the future, money, your health, etc. it’s best to address those fears logically instead of avoiding them and letting them hang over your thoughts. Review your personal finances, begin looking into job options, take the necessary safety precautions, etc. so you can feel confident with a foundation of knowledge you’ve established over these worries, and are better prepared for potential changes down the road.

Having Trouble Concentrating, Low Productivity

A common side effect of feeling constantly stressed, whether you’re responding by thinking about COVID-19 all the time or avoiding it, is its impact on your ability to focus. You may find yourself weaving in and out of attention when people are talking to you, while you’re attempting to work, or even when you’re doing something that’s meant to be relaxing or fun. Because this constant stream of thought disconnects you from the present, it’s even harder to put in positive energy and momentum to move forward. You may find yourself losing the impetus and zeal you once felt about normal work or tasks, low productivity and increased distraction.

This is an unfortunate and very normal side effect to times of intense stress. Because anxiety puts us in a state of high alert so we can focus on what is immediately endangering us, it becomes harder to focus on work when the commotion outside feels all-consuming. This is a difficult issue to combat, so please go gently on yourself during this time and forgive yourself if you do struggle to operate at “full capacity”. Some days you will simply feel better than others, and that’s okay. Some tips for improving your concentration and get into a “work” mode from Psychology Today include:

  1. Establishing cues to signal that you’re going to begin work: if you typically work in an office but are now working at home, there may be cues like taking the elevator or sitting down and unpacking your bag that’s now gone. In its stead, try creating some new cues to train your mind into settling for “work” mode.

  2. Ease into your hard, most intellectually straining work by taking care of administrative and tactical duties first.

  3. Don’t try to predict if your work session will or will not be productive, and let it happen. Often it takes some time for your mental state to catch up with your physical one.

  4. Give yourself a recovery period after working hard.

This may be a good time to reassess your interpretation of “productive”, why it is important to you, and if it is okay for you to be less productive than before. Is productivity the most important trait to define our work by?

Being On Guard All The Time, Thinking Something Bad Will Happen

Once you’ve suffered from something traumatic, it’s common for your protective instincts to snap into place. Being on guard is a way of both mentally and physically protecting yourself by being hyper-vigilant of what unexpected thing may happen next. However, this can be extremely exhausting, and constantly anticipating bad news also frames your worldview in an unnecessarily negative way.

It is healthy to approach our current climate with some healthy skepticism, especially given the government’s scattered response and the prevalence of misinformation. Remember that more news consumption does not mean better. If you’re feeling on guard all the time, be more specific on how you are using your time. Set limits on the amount of time you spend consuming media. Talk with friends, family, and therapist about your concerns. As odd as it sounds, it may even be helpful to schedule a “worry time” in which you allow yourself a specific amount of time to “stress out”. Finally, find positive things to focus on even if it’s just for a few hours.

Feeling Angry

Anger is an emotion that makes us feel powerful and more in control, which especially feels good when things are very uncertain and out of our control. Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning it is a more immediate reaction to a surface-level set of feelings that also shields us from dealing with deeper aspects of what is causing the anger, which is often something we are afraid of something that makes us feel vulnerable.

Physiologically, anger gives us a burst of energy because it triggers a “fight or flight” response -- our heart rate accelerates, blood pressure rises, rate of breathing increases -- which may feel good in comparison to how we felt previously. Because of this, many people will gravitate towards anger as a way of dealing with the stress of the now. However, while the anger in these situations may start acutely (e.g. directed at one incident), it very often spills into a constant state of being. You may find yourself angry at everyone, and reacting to everything immediately with anger.

Anger is an all-consuming emotion that also then robs your life of joy, sadness, acceptance, among other important feelings to process what’s happening. If you find that your default reaction is one of anger, and is hurting those around you, it’s important to get help. You can try out anger management techniques, join support groups, or find a therapist you trust to work with you through your anger management journey.

Feeling Shameful, Guilty or Bad About Yourself

Shame and guilt are also very powerful emotions, often with the opposite effect of anger in that they drive us to inaction. Some of us may be over-analyzing everything you did (or did not) do, and comparing that to the actions of others we know. Others of us may be feeling survivor's guilt, because they are in a more fortunate economic status than others.

Both of these reactions are very normal, and indicative of strong empathy. However, it is important to not judge yourself and your actions during unprecedented times like these, where you simply could not have guessed or prepared for what was to come. Realize what is happening is truly out of your control, and you have not done anything wrong by surviving in exactly the way that you have.

The most potent antidote to feelings of guilt and shame is open communication. Continuing to keep these toxic emotions from others makes it even more difficult for you to connect with and feel close to the people you care about, which then reinforces those feelings. While the hardest aspect of these emotions is its ability to make you feel you should not, can not, or do not deserve to act and overcome them, remind yourself that you deserve to be able to process your feelings in the open. Practice engaging in compassionate self-talk, where you offer yourself the kindness, acceptance and forgiveness you would to a loved one.

Experiencing Physical Issues (e.g. tiredness, bloating, heartburn)

Stress manifests itself in many ways in our physical bodies. People tend to get sick more often when under duress, and will also notice pain and discomfort more when they are already stressed. Prolonged periods of anxiety dampens our immune system, which affects our energy levels and abilities to fight off even small colds. Many also report feeling bloated, achy, or have heartburn because our stomach acid and gut bacteria also react to stress in unexpected ways.

Managing your anxiety level is the best way to counteract the physical symptoms you may be experiencing. This looks different for everyone, so know that what works for you is valid! You can try learning some new breath work, reading some books you enjoy, using coloring books to let your mind zone out, creating a fun Tik Tok video, chatting with your friends, or seeing a therapist -- anything that helps ground you and reduce your stress.

Learning Your Own Natural Cycle of Grief

Grief is a very understandable reaction to the impact of COVID-19 on your life, career, community, friends and family. You can be grieving many things: the loss of someone you cared about, or a job that was important to your identity, a comfort and stability of your future. It is important to allow yourself to grieve, and accept that grief is an acceptable word to describe what you’re feeling. What may be helpful for you in this process is better understanding the stages of grief and what they may feel like so you can be more cognizant of your own emotional well-being.

The most commonly known model of grief is called the Kubler-Ross model, named after psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She originally categorized these 5 stages for patients she observed dealing with their own mortality and idea of dying, and later also applied these stages to family members and friends of the deceased who seemed to model similar behavior. While this model is by no means absolute because each person’s grieving process is unique, it provides a useful framework to understand the emotions we may feel through the grief process. Remember that you cannot grieve “incorrectly”. The way you grieve is the way you grieve -- you may experience all of the stages in a different order, in varying levels of intensity or length, or a totally new set of emotions not mentioned. Your grieving process is not better or worse than anyone else around you experiencing the same or similar grief.

1. Denial & Isolation

Denial is a very common defense mechanism to help us process overwhelming news by numbing what would’ve been our subsequent emotional response. Actions such as ignoring facts, not listening when others are talking about the issue, physically distancing yourself from the issue are all symptoms of denial.

This is often the first stage of pain during the grieving process, and it is temporary. It gives us some additional time to receive the news, adjust to the new reality, and try to understand what to do next.

2. Anger

Anger is another common emotional response because we are feeling uncomfortable, nervous, scared, vulnerable attempting to adjust to a different future. Because anger helps us feel more powerful, in control (see above section about responding in anger) and less worried of outside judgement or rejection, we often turn to this to help us release pent-up emotions instead of admitting how we are actually feeling.

Unbound anger can be challenging when it isolates you further from your support network during the grieving process. Your anger may be aimed at anything from objects to strangers to friends & family, or even the person who may be dying if that is the source of your grief. Anger often masks resentful or bitterness about the changes that are happening to you, but also diminishes your ability to deal with these emotions more calmly, logically and holistically.

Many people stay in anger for a long time during the grieving process. If you find yourself feeling stuck in a pattern of anger, it’s important to get help. You can try out anger management techniques, join support groups, or find a therapist you trust to work with you through this grieving process.

3. Bargaining

To help us feel less helpless during a time where we are often not in control, we begin to think about ways to regain some semblance of control by attempting to change the outcome of what we are grieving, be it a person dying or the loss of a job. This usually manifests in “if only” or “what if” statements, which attempts to both change the past and gives us an undue feeling that we could have actually influenced the current situation.

Bargaining may come in the form of internally trying to make a “deal” with a higher being, or even attempting to maneuver inconsequential changes to the present (e.g. rapidly changing someone’s diet to “stave off” cancer). Guilt is a powerful feeling during this stage, because we generally focus on our own faults, ruminate on our regrets in relation to the loss (e.g. thinking of past statements or actions we felt may have caused harm and/or indirectly led to the current loss) and assume we could have prevented this loss.

During this stage, it’s important to be gentle with yourself as we are learning and realizing our limitations. There will be back-and-forth as we test and push boundaries in an attempt to change our circumstances. Ups and downs will happen. Use the information you receive in return to your attempts as guidance on what new paths you should explore and which paths have come to an end. Remember that everyone makes mistakes, your past mistakes did not cause the current situation, and whatever new “deals” or changes you make is unlikely to affect the situation. Instead, try to focus your energies on actions you can take to help you move through the situation as opposed to controlling it.

4. Depression

Depression often sets in when we have moved through denial, anger and bargaining and now must react to the reality of our loss. Many will retreat inwards during this stage, spending more time lost in thought and not seeing family or friends as regularly. You may cycle through thoughts such as “Why even bother to keep going?” or “I don’t know how I’m going to live without [x]” and can be compounded by feelings of identity loss “Who am I without this job?” (more on that in the Managing Identity Loss section) or ‘definitive’ conclusions about themes like love and life (e.g. “All love just ends in loss”).

While going through a period of depression is a natural part of the grief cycle, if you are feeling consumed by sadness and stuck in a continuous loop of depression, it’s time to seek professional help and support to move you forward.

5. Acceptance

Not everyone makes it to the acceptance stage, where you are able to wholly accept the loss and see your current situation with clear eyes. This does not mean you do not feel sad, angry, confused, etc. anymore but rather that you feel capable of moving forward. Moving forward does not mean you no longer care about what happened; instead, acceptance gives you a peace of mind that there are still experiences worth having in your future, and you deserve to continue forward to be part of them.

There are many other models of grief, such as the 7 Stages of Grief and grief patterns based on attachment styles. We recommend learning about different models as each has nuances that may resonate with some people more than the 5 stages outlined above. There are also many common symptoms of grief to be aware of, similar to those mentioned above for stress and trauma:

  • Crying

  • Physical discomfort

  • Trouble sleeping, nightmares

  • Questioning the purpose of life

  • Questioning your faith / spirituality

  • Distancing yourself from friends and family

  • Mental / physical fatigue

  • Guilt / shame

  • Loss of appetite

Remember to be kind to yourself, and check in with yourself daily on how you are feeling. There is no set way or time limit to process grief, and you are allowed to grieve in the way that makes sense to you. If it is helpful to you, you may consider journaling your feelings at the same time each day; this helps you take a more “birds eye” view of how you’re feeling over time, instead of just a snapshot of now or yesterday, and better map it to the different stages of grief. You’re not alone speaking with friends and family, joining a grief support group with other people going through a similar stage, or seeing a therapist are also good ideas to proactively work through your grief.

Recommended Reading & Watching

There is a lot of great literature and talks on grief. Here are a few we recommend:

Maintaining Identity During Crisis and Uncertainty

A big contributor to the stress and grief during a crisis such as this one is the feeling of identity loss, when a defining aspect of how we once saw ourselves is suddenly challenged or removed in an unexpected way.

Identity is: a grouping of attributes, qualities and values that define how we view ourselves, and perhaps how we think other people see us.

For many, identity loss during COVID-19 came in the form of losing a job. This can be a huge blow to our ego, our plans for the future, and our sense of who we are and maybe even “why” we exist. When we are suddenly no longer able to define ourselves by the same benchmarks as before, this causes us to feel paralyzed and confused, or begin questioning our decisions and seeing ourselves in a negative way.

Even small things can be triggering when we are grappling with identity loss. For example, you may be someone used to waking up to a bevy of emails who now only sees a few notifications in the morning. While you likely didn’t boast about receiving so many emails (or even found it very irritating on certain days), it likely informed a big piece of your routine and contributed to part of an identity of being a leader and important contributor to the organization.

When struggling with identity loss and a sense of self, it is tempting to seek a sense of self-worth from other people to help reinforce a sense of purpose in our lives and give us reassurance and comfort to feel good about ourselves. Often, we seek this external validation by pleasing others through channels such as our physical appearance or acts of service. This is also compounded by the nature of social media, which rewards certain actions on their platforms with a lot of “likes” and popularity.

While some of these motivations to please may spur us to certain positive habits such as exercising or volunteering more, it ultimately does not help us improve our emotional well-being or face the underlying issue of feeling lost or without an identity. Because our own understanding of who we are is incredibly fragile and subject to change, this looking to others accepting and approving our actions becomes a reliance and hinders our ability to develop an independent, stable view of ourselves.

Combating Identity Loss

Recognizing identity loss is the first step of combating its effects on your mental health. No matter what you lost, on what magnitude, know that it's okay to mourn what used to be and know that your emotions are valid. Even if there are worse things in the world that are bigger than your loss, this is your life and it should be allowed to feel the full spectrum of emotions across your experiences.

Ask yourself these questions to better parse through what are underlying associations that are important to your identity, versus primary-level attachments.

  • What are your core values? Think about what kind of actions matter to you and why.

  • What matters to you and why? Reflect on what genuinely brings you happiness and why.

Once you’re able to pinpoint the bigger themes making up your identity, you are more able to separate them from the specific acts that contribute to this identity. For example, you may be an event planner who is currently out of work. Despite not having events lined up, the aspects of your work you most strongly identify with -- perhaps organization, team management, being detail-oriented -- are still very much present and part of who you are. Root yourself in the core parts of what you’ve decided your identity is, not its public-facing actions.

You can also brainstorm different ways you can find new outlets to express those identity traits in positive, but different, ways during this time. For example: if you are a former General Manager of a bustling restaurant, an important part of who you are may be leading a team. Recognize that just because your team is not currently there does not take away from your abilities to lead. Instead, perhaps you can lead a different type of team that would also be of service to other people and engage guests with a hospitality mindset, such as volunteering in soup kitchens or distributing meals to those unable to leave your homes.

It may also be advisable to look into therapy if you are struggling with identity loss, especially if it is threatening your mental and emotional well-being, or you find yourself turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol and drugs, or becoming overly attached to others. The most important relationship you’ll have is the one with yourself, and the core of that is driven by how you see yourself. Nurturing a strong, confident sense of self is a hugely important step towards finding fulfillment in who you are and how you live your life.

How to Get Started Getting Help FAQ

Q: Should I go to therapy?

A: If you feel as if you’re struggling with emotional or interpersonal issues, it may be a good ideal to reach out to a therapist. Most therapists are willing to give initial consultation at no charge to provide you with more information, so the first step is to at least reach out and try out a few therapists to see how these sessions make you feel.

Q: What kinds of therapy is available for me?

A: There are many, many different types of therapy. Many of them will not at all resemble the “classic” therapist seen in TV and movies. Psychology Today has a great link here of the many types of therapy available, and there will be a Therapy 101 session in a few weeks (make sure you’re signed up!) Remember, most therapists will use an integrated approach drawing upon many different therapy theories and techniques.

Q: How do I find a therapist?

A: If you have insurance coverage, you can call your provider or log in to their portal online to request a list of therapists in your area that are covered, or “in network”.

You can also use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357) or its resources link.

You can also use private online services such as Psychology Today which will verify clinician’s licenses.

Q: I’ve seen ads for therapy services like TalkSpace, what’s that about?

A: Apps and programs like TalkSpace and BetterHealth are platforms linking you to therapist(s) virtually. Some are chat only, while others also offer video or voice messaging. The aim of these services is to offer some forms of therapy at a reduced cost compared to traditional in-person therapy and give you more flexibility in being able to reach your therapist(s). This approach works well for some, and not for others -- only you can decide if this is a therapy solution that fits your needs and lifestyle.

Q: How much does therapy cost?

A: Therapy costs range very widely depending on the insurance you have and the therapist you are seeing. (Note from editor: my last therapist was out-of-network of my insurance and she cost $150 per hour.) If you’re worried about cost, check with your insurance company to find a therapist in its network so you’ll be covered for visits (or only have to pay a co-pay).

If you don’t have insurance, look for therapists and counseling centers who work on a sliding scale as they can be more flexible with their rates. You could also look at group therapy, support groups and therapy apps (see above) options, as sometimes they can be more affordable.

Q: What if I cannot afford therapy?

A: There are often nonprofit health centers and mental health clinics in your state that offer services at no cost or very low cost. You can find a list at National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) online or 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).

Many support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are free or ask for a very small fee. You can find a list of support groups at Mental Health America.

If you qualify for Medicaid, you can see a therapist who accepts that coverage at no cost.

Remember: if it’s an emergency, dial 911. If you need immediate assistance, there are several free national hotlines for a variety of issues such as addiction, suicide prevention, eating disorder, domestic violence, among others. (These are listed in our Additional Resources section below.)

Q: What if I am thinking of hurting myself and/or other people?

A: If you’re thinking of hurting yourself or other people, reach out to someone trained to help, and people who are important to you. It’s a good idea to have planned two to three people you can reach out to if you are feeling overwhelmed. Also, remove triggering, unsafe, and/or dangerous objects from your space.

Self-Harm / National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

After the moment has passed, make sure to reach out for professional, ongoing help from therapists or support groups to ensure this feeling does not recur.

Q: What if I just want to talk to a therapist occasionally?

A: That’s absolutely ok. If you don’t think seeing a therapist full time (typically 1 hour per week) makes sense for you, discuss with your therapist a schedule that will work best for you -- perhaps bi-weekly or monthly is a better fit.

Q: What if I’m too afraid to seek help, or something/someone is preventing me from doing so?

A: Often, stigma prevents us from seeking the help that would greatly improve our lives. If you are nervous or unsure about seeking help, you can first try a low-commitment consultation via phone or even online chat. This could be with a local mental health services hotline, or even a national hotline (see below) -- the responders will be happy to talk you through some therapy options and what kind of help may best suit you. These sessions are pressure free and do not require too much personal information, so you can maintain some anonymity and decide for yourself if therapy is right for you.

If something/someone is preventing you from seeking help, you can reach out to both local and national hotlines such as the National Domestic Abuse Hotline via phone, text or online chat to describe to them your situation with more clarity. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Additional Mental Health Resources

Helplines, Hotlines, Text & Chat Lines

National Suicide Prevention Hotline operates 24/7 at 800-273-8255. It is also available in Spanish and for the deaf or hard of hearing.

National Domestic Violence Hotline operates 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233. If you cannot speak safely, you can text LOVEIS to 22522 or log in online for a confidential chat. All services are available in Spanish.

California Warm Line operates 24/7 at 1-855-845-7415 for non-emergency mental and emotional support for California residents.

Teen Line operates 6-10pm PST at (800) TLC-TEEN or via text ("TEEN" to 839863).

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) helpline operates Monday - Thursday 11am to 9pm ET, Friday 11am to 5pm ET. Online chat is available Monday - Thursday 9am to 9pm ET, Friday 9am to 5pm ET.

Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Access Line operates 24/7 at (800) 854-7771

New York City’s NYC Well Hotline operates 24/7 at 1-888-NYC-WELL or via text (WELL to 65173)

Crisis Text Line operates 24/7, text HOME to 741741

Disaster Distress Hotline operates 24/7 at 1-800-985-5990

Chat & Support Groups

Supportiv: A free, 24/7, anonymous online peer support network chat group.

Bridge Club: An online and in-group support network for women and non-binary individuals interested in sobriety.

Project Return: A peer-to-peer support network for the greater Los Angeles area.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) NYC Metro Support Groups: Social and support groups in the great NYC area.

12step.org: Online directory of recovery meetings

Online Resources & Directories

Help When You Need It: An online directory to find local listings of services (both private and public) such as domestic violence assistance, mental health services and more.

Psychology Today: A online media site and licensed therapist directory.

Calm: A mobile phone app offering select free meditations, sleep stories, movement exercises and music that can be soothing during this stressful time.

Coa: An online class network offering free classes to manage through COVID-19, led by therapists.

Youper: An mobile phone app offering AI-based meditations

Affordable Therapy Options

NYC: Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy

Southern California: Southern California Counseling Center

Nationwide: Open Path Collective

Donate & Support

If you’ve enjoyed this Skillshare episode and want to give back to the community, we are raising money for DJ's chosen charity Support Staff! You can donate via their page here.

If you are enjoying the Community Skillshare series and want to help our team at Studio ATAO, you can become a monthly patron of ours at Patreon. We thank you for your support!

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