IDAHO — Last month, Idahoans marked the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 cases in the state. Since then, they've endured lockdowns, job loss, uncertainty over housing, and more than 2,000 Idahoans have died.
Throughout the last year, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has been busy helping Idahoans navigate pandemic life. Now, they're teaming up with Empower Idaho to offer a support group series for Idahoans to cope with the challenges and stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The series, One Year Later, started in late March and meets every other Tuesday to cover different topics like building resilience, healing, and connecting with others.
"We did an introductory session to get going and then we've also done a Rebuilding Community, and we most recently did one on Meditation and Mindfulness," says Lillian Toumey, a COVID-19 Crisis Community Resource Specialist with Idaho Strong.
Toumey says the program is meant to help communities who have experienced some sort of disaster. For many, the pandemic has caused similar feelings to those they might have after experiencing a tornado, hurricane, or flood.
"Around a year after the disaster, there's typically kind of an emotional downturn in the community, and so for us, this is the anniversary of our disaster that we just passed in March," explains Toumey. "Really, it's kind of been a prolonged year. Not of necessarily getting back to normal, but kind of ups and downs, changes, different requirements that we've had to comply with so we've noticed that people have been feeling that."
Toumey adds that resilience strategies and other coping skills participants may learn, as well as other Idahoans they may meet, can help them in the long term.
"These sessions are designed to just offer ways to de-stress, to disconnect from work. They're designed to be 30 to 60 minutes so that people can come together with others and share about what's been going on for them and great ways they've found coping with stress, regardless of the pandemic."
Upcoming topics include De-stress and Reset, Engagement Through Virtual Platforms, Grief and Loss, and Boundaries. The series runs through June 29. To sign up, click here.
If you need immediate resources or just someone to talk to, the COVID-19 Help Now Line is available to call or text.