BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There has been a spike in mental health issues due to the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

CNN reports a nearly 900 percent increase in the use of crisis hotlines.

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With the constant barrage of headlines about the death toll rising and countless people losing jobs, it can be hard to stay positive, but a Baltimore mental health professional said it’s important to remain socially connected despite being physically apart.

“We want, we need safe physical distancing but we want social network enhancement, social closeness is what we are seeking,” said Dr. Elias Shaya with MedStar Health’s behavioral health department.

Another way to stay in a good headspace is to keep a routine by eating meals at the same time and getting enough — but not too much — sleep, he said.


Jill Janofski isn’t worried about getting too much sleep; she decided since she’s spending more time at home now would be the perfect time to foster a rescue dog.

“Being able to get out with the dog three times a day to walk him, it’s really boosted my mood a lot,” she said.

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Will Arcentelas said he’s also spending time outside to get some fresh air.

“I always follow the order about the time until 8 but before that, I can go outside and play soccer,” he said.

The sun can play a significant role in one’s overall mood, Dr. Shaya said, because it’s filled with nutrients people need.

“Going outside, getting fresh air, but also getting sun exposure is great or even coming close to the window,” he said.

He also recommends limiting the amount of negativity people see on social media and TV.

For those who may be struggling with their mental health amid the pandemic, there are resources available, including:

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachael Cardin