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Mental health company in St. Petersburg helps deal with stress, anxiety during COVID-19

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 00:14:28-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A digital-based mental health company in St. Petersburg says they’re helping more people now than ever before.

Cope Notes, created in 2018, helps its users by positive thoughts through texts.

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“We offer encouragement and advice and prompts people can respond to,” Johnny Crowder, the creator of Cope Notes.

He says the idea came to him after a long and challenging use of the mental health industry.

Since the outbreak began in other countries in late December and early January, Crowder says usage has spiked.

Cope Notes is now serving clients in 81 countries.

“We have had more people sign up for Cope Notes since this all started than the entire first year of Cope Notes,” Crowder said.

But they have had to change the way they approach users during this coronavirus crisis. Crowder says usual coping mechanisms consist of getting out, meeting friends and enjoying social life.

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With social distancing and self-isolation that has changed dramatically.

“We need a text in there about social isolation and how to connect with people you can’t be with, we need a text about body image. We need a text about finances.” He said.

ABC Action News asked Cope Notes, if it’s normal to feel stress, anxiety or to be scared during the outbreak of COVID-19.

I have a big bone to pick with the world normal. I would say it is common and it is typical and I will say this you definitely should not judge yourself if you are feeling stressed or anxious. I don’t know many people who are not. And it does not matter what form it takes. It could be what you could be seeing on the news is stressing you out. It could be phone calls from friends and family members you are concerned about, it could be your business or getting laid off. There are all sorts of concerns we have even trying to get toilet paper we are freaking out about. And I think frankly our first step in trying to cope through this is understanding we cannot judge ourselves of how we feel about it because all that is going to do is slow down our process of working through it. So if you are afraid or anxious or stressed out I hope you can understand that there is a more pronounce sense of unity in humanity than maybe ever before.
Crowder said.

While Cope Notes is serving more people than they have in the past, they say they are capable of helping millions more. And that’s why Crowder says they are rolling out a new initiative specifically due to COVID-19.

It's called #copewithCOVID and encourages people to gift a free two week service to five family or friends who may be struggling with anxiety or stress due to the virus.

We also asked Crowder what people can do to organize their thoughts while they are working or staying at home. He says to keep a routine and stay connected.

“Number one, floss I’m not even joking, flossing, brushing my teach and using mouth wash, wearing socks cleaning my clothes. Wearing work clothes at home,” Crowder said.

In the online interview, Crowder also said he is intentionally making time for friends. While it’s not in person, he sets a meeting with friends and family over the phone or programs like Skype or FaceTime.

“The term social distancing might make us think we may need to pull back and not connect with people, but in fact, we have an incredible opportunity in how and when we connect,” he said.

If you’re suffering stress or anxiety due to the virus reach out to Cope Notes online or by texting “Cope” to 33-222.