Mental Health Tips During Coronavirus Quarantine From a Psychiatrist Caring for Prison Patients

During this unprecedented time in society, one of the biggest challenges we all face is the order to stay home and the mental health challenges that come with that kind of confinement. Dr. Ken Hopper is used to helping people adjust to confinement. He is the Chief Behavioral Health Administrator of Armor Health, one of the top healthcare providers to correctional facilities in the country.

Some of Dr. Hopper’s tips for new inmates are applicable to the general public who feel trapped in their homes. 

Those tips include:

  1. Keep plans and goals simple – the restrictions around you make it hard to recreate how life was. Dr. Hopper says plans and goals are best when they are tangible. For example, you want to exercise but can’t go to your favorite gym or exercise class. How can you recreate the gym or a class using the space and items you have available to you at home?
  2. Plan for the short term with a background of the long term – Dr. Hooper says neither can be sacrificed.  Plan for tomorrow with a goal of what you will do throughout the week. Once you have one week planned, you’ll add structure that gives most of us peace in an uncertain time. With one week planned, try for two and so on. Before you know it your planning and goal setting will reach beyond the time you are required to stay home. We can’t arrive at a destination without taking one step at a time
  3. Avoid the Fear-Multiplier – The real fear could be fear. Fear, anxiety, and worry can make us skip “computing” steps in a non-helpful spiral. It takes effort to back up and get on track with logical thinking under stressful times. Give yourself a chance to think through fear and ask yourself if that fear is a logical step. Remember there is a positive end date – Those of us in quarantine or honoring stay-at-home orders, like many inmates, don’t have a life sentence. 

When your normal life changes drastically, it is easy to get caught in the daily mental quicksand. Dr. Hopper says a plan to move ahead always serves us well. Remind yourself you WILL see friends and family in person again. You WILL go to your favorite restaurant again. You WILL go back to a daily grind outside of your home that won’t seem so tough anymore.


About Dr. Ken Hopper

Dr. Ken Hopper is a nationally renowned behavioral and population health specialist with 30 years of experience. A Designated Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, he has held national roles in healthcare leadership including the National Medical Director of Integrated Care at Anthem’s Government Business Division, and Chief Medical Officer/VP of Clinical Innovation at Humana’s Behavioral Division.  

On the national stage, he has led or co-led early models of integrated care management and medical provider-specific psychotropic use education. He also led the transformation of multiple primary care clinics to the collaborative care model of integrated medical/behavioral care. 




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