CLACKAMAS COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - 2020 has been a year unlike any in history, with recent historic wildfires likely adding to the stress that many people have been feeling. With that stress in mind, health officials say taking care of your mental health is extremely important right now.

Though many people may feel like they don't have a lot of control over their lives right now, psychologists say it's still important to take time out of your day to focus on what you need.

"They may be irritable, they may have trouble sleeping, they may be oversleeping," Dr. Robin Henderson, chief executive of Behavioral Health at Providence, said. "They may be sad much of the time and find themselves crying often."

Doctors say focusing on the things you can control right now is important, and recommend taking time to exercise or planning out your meals for the day.

"Giving people some level of control over decisions is really, really important right now, because so many decisions have been taken away from us," Henderson said.

And with wildfires continuing to burn across the state, many people are dealing with the unimaginable stress of losing a home or not knowing where a loved one may be.

In Clackamas County, dogs like Jazzi are being deployed to help in those situations. Jazzi works like a therapy dog but in more intense situations.

Jazz's handler, Liz Schwieker, says she is amazed at the responses she sees when Jazzi arrives at a scene.

"Sometimes, it’s just looking at them and you can see people decompress," Schwieker said. "It’s amazing. It’s magic. They do it all."

While staying informed is important, officials say you should no spend your time obsessively following every details about these tragic events.

"It’s probably really tempting for people to keep the news on at all times, but actually in a disaster setting like this one, that’s really not a good idea," Jeffrey Anderson, a crisis program supervisor for Clackamas County, said. "It’s not going to be helpful, particularly if it adds to your anxiety or your kids' anxiety."

Officials say if you are struggling with anxiety or depression, or even just need someone to talk to, you should reach out. Clackamas County has a a 24-hour crisis line at 503-655-8585. Officials say you can also reach out to your health provider to get a referral to talk to someone if needed.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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