In the Time of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Mental Health Has Never Mattered More

Mental Health Month

NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome provides programs and services for individuals and families during this uncertain time.

The coronavirus pandemic is exacting a significant toll on everyone from the physical symptoms, anxiety about the risk of contracting the virus, worry about loved ones, job-related stress (in some cases, reduced hours or job loss) and social isolation. In addition to May being Mental Health Month, this is an especially important time to focus on mental health and to ensure access to services. NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS) has been providing mental health programming for the Tourette Syndrome community for more than 15 years.

In a study by Qualtrics, two out of five respondents said that their mental health has declined since the coronavirus outbreak. The level of anxiety since the pandemic started has risen 57.2 percent. Nearly 90 percent of individuals with Tourette Syndrome also live with a mental health disorder, including OCD and anxiety. The stress of the pandemic and all the changes that come with it, can also exacerbate their tics.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Month is #Tools2Thrive to highlight what people can do daily to prioritize their mental health, build resiliency, support others who are struggling with their mental health, and to head towards a path of recovery. Now more than ever, it is important for individuals to recognize and accept their emotions, reach out if they need help and connect with others through digital platforms.

“There are several programs we offer for those with TS and its associated disorders, to help them embrace their disorder and live life,” said Executive Director Faith Rice. “We have taken these programs – and added additional ones – online to continue to help during this time as much as possible.”

These services have proven to be highly effective outside of and during the COVID-19 pandemic. NJCTS has successfully taught youth the importance of advocacy and instilled self-confidence and a sense of belonging through the Youth Advocate program. These teens now get together in a weekly online activity to talk about what they are going through at home or simply play a game.  Monthly webinars have become weekly online support groups to service families and individuals and have covered topics from mindfulness to success strategies for remote learning. NJCTS has also gathered together the latest information from the mental health and education fields and provided families with these resources online. These programs incorporate tools for people to thrive during difficult times and encourage them to consider their mental health as much as their physical health.

“We want to let the Tourette Syndrome and mental health communities know that we are here, working for them,” said Rice. “The programs may look different, but the mission has not changed.”

If you are in need of NJCTS’ services, please visit www.njcts.org or call (908) 575-7350. Our hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.

NJCTS, the nation’s first Center of Excellence for Tourette Syndrome, is a not-for-profit organization committed to the advocacy of children and families with Tourette Syndrome and its associated disorders. Dedicated to delivering high quality services to these individuals, the Center recognizes the importance of educating the public, medical professionals, and teachers about this disorder through programs and affiliations with public schools, health centers, and universities. To learn more about Tourette Syndrome and the programs available from NJCTS, visit www.njcts.org.