Help in Hard Times: Local Mental Health & Emotional Support Resources

October 28, 2020 | by Erin Sirianni

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Every weekday around 12:30 pm, our neighbors’ dog – a yellow lab named Harry – bounds into our backyard. I am often working at our dining room table and from the windows, I have a front row seat to Harry’s exuberant joy at playing fetch with our son on the lawn.

Watching this scene play out gives me a little break and moment of levity that I have come to look forward to. Then after 15 minutes, my son takes Harry for a walk around the block before returning him to my neighbor’s house, and if I have time, I join them.

My son’s time with Harry began as a summer dog-walking job that he has been able to continue since the Mercer Island School District moved to a remote-learning schedule due to COVID-19. Our boys desperately want to be back in school, but our playtime with Harry has become a silver lining for us all – and Harry unwittingly gives us a little extra emotional support that is helpful in getting through long days.

I’ve realized in recent weeks and months how I underestimated just how important basic social interaction was in my life – chatting with co-workers in the office, going running with a friend, visiting the library, going to church, volunteering in our son’s elementary school classroom, and other everyday, ordinary activities. These ordinary activities, that I had taken for granted, had given me emotional reinforcement for managing everyday stress and worry. I have wondered why in recent months I have been waking up with my heart racing or that my thoughts are overrun with worry and doubt. I have wondered why the reprieve I experience at watching a big puppy play in my backyard is unexpected and overwhelming.

We are lucky. We have enough, and we are healthy. But I have also found trying to make this new normal work, with COVID-19 risk management, is exhausting and hard – and I know it may be debilitating for individuals and families who are struggling with hardship, sickness, and loss.

The clocks turn back this weekend, and we are heading into the shorter days and longer nights of winter. But the good news is that there are people and resources out there to get us through, and it’s okay to reach out for help.

Community & Regional Resources for Mental Health and Emotional Support

Mercer Island Youth & Family Services – Individual & Family Counseling

Mercer Island Youth & Family Services – School-Based Mental Health Counselors for Children, Adolescents, and their Families

Mercer Island Youth & Family Services – Senior Services

Mental-Health Resources in King County and Washington State (Seattle Times article)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Eastside

Crisis Connections & Teen Link with a 24-hour crisis line: 1-866-427-4747

Psychology Today – Find a Therapist Tool & Directory

If you have a resource or organization you recommend adding to this list, please email me at [email protected].

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