Disaster Updates

Regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus


The COVID-19 outbreak around the world represents a stressful time for many people right now.  Schools, businesses, and other events closing and cancellation may cause anxiety or stress. The below resources can help navigate this difficult time and provide guidance.

Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak – Brochure from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks – Information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Coronavirus and Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreaks Response  -Fact sheets from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress – Fact sheets for health care clinicians, mental health guidelines, and taking care of your family among others

Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 – Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on managing mental health stressors during this time

DMH Program Visitation

On March 11, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announced the first reported coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the state.  MSDH recommended extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to older members of our communities and those with chronic medical conditions who are at highest risk of hospitalization and death from infection due to COVID-19 activity.  MSDH has recommended limiting visitations and discontinuing group social activities in long-term care facilities in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

At this time, DMH programs have temporarily suspended all off-campus visitors as a precautionary measure.  The Department of Mental Health’s main concern is to keep the clients and individuals served at our programs safe and healthy, and we will continue to actively observe the situation and will continue to coordinate with local and state agencies.

DMH is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH).  Preventive measures recommended against COVID-19 include the same measures taken against other illnesses like the flu, including:

  • Staying home if you are sick, and avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes, use a tissue when possible, and throw the tissue away
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

COVID-19 poses a more serious risk for older adults and individuals with a chronic illness.  In limiting visitation, DMH is taking precautionary steps purely out of an abundance of caution in order to minimize the chances of exposure. There are no cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus reported in any DMH programs at this time. We will continually evaluate the situation and take the appropriate steps in the best interests of the individuals served at DMH programs.


Click Here to Read the State Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan

Common Reactions to a Disaster

People feel and express their reactions to a crisis differently. Some emotional reactions include:

• Feeling very nervous, helpless, fearful or angry

• Feeling hopeless about the future

• Feeling detached or unconcerned about others

• Feeling numb and unable to experience love or joy

• Becoming easily upset or agitated

• Having frequent distressing dreams or memories

• Avoiding people, places and things related to the disaster

• Having difficulty concentrating


How people physically react to a disaster also varies. Some physical reactions include:

• Having an upset stomach, eating too much or too little, or having gastrointestinal problems

• Experiencing a pounding heart, rapid breathing, sweating or severe headache when thinking about the disaster

• Having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much


Although everyone deals with stress at some time in his or her life, when the anxiety and depression begin to affect one’s occupational and social functioning it may be an indication of a more serious problem requiring professional help.


Coping Tactics

Coping Tactics for Adults

It is very important for people to take care of themselves. People often experience strong and unpleasant emotional and physical responses. With the help of family and friends, most people gradually feel better as time goes by.


There are several ways to cope with the stress a disaster:

• Spend time with other people. Coping with stressful events is easier when people support each other.

• Make use of available community services.

• Create a disaster preparedness plan and emergency supplies kit.

• Exercise, alternated with relaxation, will alleviate some of the physical reactions. Eat balanced small meals.

• Do something that just feels good to you like taking a warm bath, taking a walk, sitting in the sun, or petting your cat or dog.

• Keep a journal; write your way through those sleepless nights.

• Maintain as normal a schedule as possible.


Coping Tactics for Children

What can adults do to help children cope?

• Let them know you understand their feelings.

• Tell them that they really are safe.

• Keep to your usual routines.

• Keep them from seeing too many frightening pictures of the events.

• Educate yourself about how to talk to children of different ages about trauma.