SIDNEY — Everyone is being advised to social distance from one other right now. But keeping physical distance doesn’t have to equal true social distance. In an attempt to help people stay connected, Gov. Mike DeWine recently introduced the “Strive for 5” challenge during this time of quarantine.
During DeWine’s daily press conference on April 13, he, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), Recovery Ohio, and local behavioral health partners jointly launched “Strive for 5” — a new, statewide awareness campaign to help people cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, and isolation by connecting with others.
“I look at this challenge as being so beneficial to so many people, young and old,” said Julie Ehemann, Shelby County commissioner. “Cheri (Drinkwine, director of the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency) and I have talked about this ‘Strive for 5’ and as we say, ‘we are all in this together,’ let’s keep in mind other people that maybe don’t have it as good as we do. Just a friendly voice and someone checking in is a great idea.”
According to a OhioMHAS press release, the campaign was unveiled as part of OhioMHAS Director Lori Criss’ “Mental Health Monday” video on social media. Criss encourages all Ohioans to reach out, connect and comfort each other while we work our way through the COVID-19 crisis and physical distancing.
“Strive for 5” challenges individuals to find five people in their life who they will check-in with via phone, email, video, various apps etc., during each of the next 30 days.
“It’s a positive action we can take that benefits all. It’s empowering. We take the initiative of reaching out and can make a difference in someone’s life,” Drinkwine said. “A benefit of staying connected daily is to identify quickly if all is well or if there are needs that should be addressed.”
The state has made a variety of social media messages and other campaign resources available at: OHSTRIVE5.org, or by sending an email request to email@example.com. Use the hashtag #OHStrive5.
“We encourage Ohioans to connect with people who may be isolated, lonely or live alone, and to reach out to neighbors, friends, families and co-workers,” DeWine said in the release. “First responders, healthcare workers and other individuals who are courageously keeping our essential services open also need support now, as do caregivers who are hard at work taking care of others.”
“The people we serve, in recovery from mental health or substance use related conditions, especially understand the great and unique power of personal peer to peer support and connection to others at times of crisis to allay the anxiety and fears we all face at this time,” said Criss in the release. “Ohioans may not be able to touch each other physically, but we can certainly touch each other through these other forms of connection.”
The “Strive for 5” challenge was developed by the New York Coalition for Behavioral Health and brought to Ohio by the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County.
“Our communities are full of caring people who want to help others manage stress, cope and thrive during this time. We took the lead on bringing ‘Strive for 5’ to Ohio to give all residents a simple, uplifting way to connect, and protect each other’s well-being,” said Elaine Georgas, interim director, Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County, in the release. “Particularly for persons who are alone, in recovery or just uncertain, each of us reaching out to five people every day for the next 30 days will make us stronger and resilient. I am proud to join our state partners in launching Ohio ‘Strive for 5.’”
“As the pandemic wears on,” Drinkwine added, “it becomes very important for us to be socially connected as we stay physically apart.”
Ehemann said, “I just think about all of those people who could really use some help. And for some of us who are at home kind of at loose ends, it gives us something to focus on instead of, ‘Oh, why can’t I go do this or do that.’ I’ve found that when you are helping other people, you get back.”
She encourages people who are struggling to reach out to someone or to one of the various public help lines set up to help during times such as this. Help with mental health can be found among the following:
• Ohio crisis text line: Text keyword “4HOPE” to 741 741
• Find substance use disorder and mental health treatment at: https://findtreatment.gov
• Disaster distress helpline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round: 1-800-985-5990 or 1-800-846-8517 TTY; text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 — Spanish-speakers: text “Hablanos” to 66746
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.