COVID-19 Response: Mental Health Advocacy

Kandice RileyCOVID-19 Response

COVID-19 Community Response: Mental Health Advocacy

United Way of the Ozarks has worked diligently to connect communities and people during this past year. Through facing a health crisis, our community has persevered to navigate the new innovations, protocols, and needs that the COVID-19 crisis has inflicted in our community. Our partner nonprofits have been the advocates on the ground, fighting for our neighbors every step of the way. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and United Way of the Ozarks’ is devoted to spreading awareness about the importance of mental health advocacy. This means making mental health a priority.  NAMI of Southwest Missouri, one of United Way of the Ozarks’ partner nonprofits, does just this. NAMI of Southwest Missouri seeks to “improve the quality of life for people with mental illness and their families through support, education, and advocacy”. NAMI received $5,000 from the Coronavirus Response Fund, which helped in purchasing necessary supplies and ensuring the safety of our community members.

From Left to Right: COVID-related supplies; Thermal camera kiosk; Plexiglass divider

Like many of United Way of the Ozarks’ partner nonprofits, NAMI of Southwest Missouri was in need of financial assistance related to operation relief. Due to the stay at home order, NAMI incurred costs associated with IT costs and remote work transition. NAMI of Southwest Missouri was able to purchase a thermal camera kiosk, which ensured that everyone entered their building thermal camera kiosk to identify individuals with elevated temperatures. These can also be used as a check-in tool, ensuring safety in their building. 

Not only has there been a health crisis at hand in combating a global health pandemic, but this crisis has also brought to light the importance of accessible mental health resources. With the shutdowns and quarantine protocols, many people have had to experience social isolation. It is important to advocate for the mental health needs of our community. United Way Worldwide published a blog in April that emphasized the importance of taking care of your mental health.

Here are some ideas they suggest to combat loneliness:

  • Call 211. The 24/7 confidential referral hotline provides referrals if you or someone you know needs help locating mental health resources, talking through a problem, or exploring treatment options. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength not weakness. (If the situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911.)
  • Mix up  your routine. Making little changes to your daily routine can make your day more exciting. Attempt a new recipe for dinner, say one thing you’re grateful for, go on a walk. They may seem like insignificant changes, but they can improve your mental well-being overtime.
  • Look for the good. Practice the rule of “three good things” and ask friends and family to do the same. At the end of each day, reflect on three good things that happened — large or small. This helps decrease anxiety, counter depression and build emotional resiliency, according to the APA.
  • Teach your grandparents how to use Zoom. Senior citizens, especially those living in nursing homes, are disproportionately affected by social isolation. Whether they’re our grandparents, friends or neighbors, check in with them. You can help them run errands, teach them how to use technology, and just show them you care.


Stay tuned to our blog as we publish a “good news” story each week detailing the ways our community has risen to the pandemic’s challenge to LIVE UNITED. You can also sign up to receive our monthly newsletter to stay connected to the work United Way of the Ozarks is doing to make a difference in our community.

United Way of the Ozarks is committed to supporting our nonprofit community throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.