ANNAPOLIS, Md. — With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing folks to cope with loneliness, job loss and grief, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is teaming up with Instagram to connect young people to mental health support resources during this challenging time.

On its Instagram page, NAMI is posting tips and recommendations to help folks feel less vulnerable and more connected. The organization’s chief medical officer Ken Duckworth said the project is targeting young people because three quarters of all mental-health vulnerabilities begin before age 25, and social distancing could intensify those feelings.

“Our goal is to get resources, get things that are easy for them to digest and to make it appealing for young people to have a conversation about what all of us are experiencing, which is a challenge to our sense of routine and, in some cases, the development of anxiety problems,” Duckworth said.

For tips, go to NAMI’s Instagram account at NAMICommunicate or call their hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI.

If you’re feeling anxious while stuck inside alone during the pandemic, Duckworth recommends limiting news intake and avoiding social media before bed. He said social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation and recommended reaching out and strengthening relationships.

“If you have an elderly neighbor you can shop for or you want to reach out to a nephew you haven’t talked to in a while – if you can find meaning in adversity, that seems to predict long-term well-being from adverse situations,” he said.

According to a 2017 report, 30% of Maryland high school students surveyed said they had symptoms of depression for two or more weeks in a row. The NAMI Maryland chapter has more resources if you’re feeling anxious or depressed. Call 410-884-8691.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service – MD