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Press Release

Release Date: May 12, 2020
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

With the massive amount of news concerning COVID-19 (the coronavirus), it is normal to feel anxiety and uncertainty. This can be compounded in social isolation as the public is being asked to distance themselves from others and remain at home unless absolutely necessary.

The Chickasaw Nation has mental health programs and services that can help people deal with this stress positively.

These services are offered to all First Americans and Chihckasaw Nation employees to encourage everyone to be proactive about their own mental health.

First Americans with mental health concerns should contact the Chickasaw Nation Department of Family Services, Medical Family Therapy, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., available at all department of health locations. These include the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, (580) 436-3980; Tishomingo Health Clinic, (580) 371-2361; Purcell Health Clinic, (405) 527-4700; and the Ardmore Health Clinic, (580) 226-8181.

Chickasaw Nation employees who are facing mental health challenges are encouraged to contact Strong Foundation, (580) 272-5170.

The Chickasaw Nation regularly offers mental health services options. These include the Chickasaw Nation’s Outpatient Therapy Services, Psychosocial Unit, Medical Family Therapy, Prevention Services and Behavioral Health Services. Each specializes in care provided to patients.

For more information about mental health services provided by the Chickasaw Nation, visit

Tips for coping with stress

There are a number of things that can be done to help reduce stress levels. People who find themselves feeling particularly anxious or agitated should try taking some slow, deep breaths.

Dr. Paul Emrich, Chickasaw Nation Under Secretary of Mental Health Services, explains,

“One trick is to teach yourself what we call ‘7-11.’ That is, breathe in through your nose for seven seconds and then breathe out of your mouth for 11 seconds. Repeat that several times and you’ll naturally feel your body relax. It will help you limit stress.”

Inhaling and exhaling slowly helps focus on breathing and redirects thoughts, which allows the body to relax and limits stress.

“Practicing breathing techniques can be very calming,” he said. ‘When we breathe correctly our body naturally will relax. One way to do that is to practice slow, deep breaths, and your body will respond to that.”

Relaxing tension in the body is also helpful. Stretching limbs, the neck and back is a good practice. Be mindful to take care of any sort of muscle, bone or joint conditions that might be aggravated.

Clearing the mind and focusing on something positive can also help. Taking a few moments to meditate, pray or simply sitting in a quiet place can give one a sense of peace.

Maintaining a routine is extremely important. Continue to go to bed and get up at the regular time. Eat meals normally. Normal routines, including bathing, brushing teeth, changing clothes and getting enough sleep, should be continued as normal. These routines help people stay aware of the passage of time and can reduce feelings of being stuck or confined.

Stay connected to others. People can still have driveway conversations with friends and neighbors as long as they maintain a safe distance. If unable to visit friends and relatives in person, make a point of calling or text messaging regularly.

Applications like FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo, Google Hangouts and Zoom allow multiple people to join in a single video call. This makes it possible for extended family or groups of friends to come together at once.

Get out of the house if possible, but always in a safe manner. Fresh air and physical activity are natural stress relievers.