A Guide to Mental Health Resources in Rhode Island

A guide to managing stress, finding care and supporting ourselves and our children through continuously challenging times.


Finding Care | Managing Stress and Relationships | Maternal Mental Health

Managing Stress

Life can be overwhelming at times between juggling family, work and other responsibilities. It’s important to take care of yourself and find beneficial ways to unwind. Try these tips and treatments for managing stress. By Lauren Clem, Dana Laverty and Kerri Tallman

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Mental Health Check

Self-care takes many forms; it’s not just luxurious spa treatments and gratitude journaling. Whether you choose to decompress indoors or outdoors, here are some options regardless of your living situation and budget. 

Go for a run. Even if you’re not a self-proclaimed runner, tie on your sneakers and head out the door. Studies show that hitting your stride releases endorphins, creating the “runner’s high,” which, while only short-term, can reduce anxiety and invoke feelings of calm, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Go for a walk. If fast-paced exercise isn’t your thing, try a quick hike or walk. Spending time outdoors has been proven to improve mental health, no matter where you are on your journey. You don’t have to climb Mount Washington — even a small trail in the woods can be comforting. The relaxing sounds of nature can help soothe anxious or negative thoughts. Bonus: If you have a pet, leash them up and take your buddy on an adventure. 

Join a group fitness class. Whether it’s at a gym, a running club or an outdoor bootcamp class, studies from the University of New England show that working out with others motivates you to perform better and boosts your mood through social connections. There’s something about working out with others that motivates you to push through that last heavy rep or aim for a new fitness goal. —K.T.


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Find Your Inner Peace

Whether it’s five minutes or an hour, meditating is a great way to achieve a moment of Zen.

Mindfulness. If you have an Apple Watch, you may be reminded throughout the day to take a minute to breathe through the Mindfulness feature. This is an excellent tool for high-stress situations where you can step aside and have a guided breathing session. Or set a reminder to take a few minutes to breathe during your lunch break or at the end of the day.

Headspace. The app approaches meditation from a new perspective, helping you exercise your mind to cultivate awareness. Throughout the day, especially when working from home, we can become trapped in our own minds and charge up our emotions, which can cloud our actions. The focus is on breathing (a physical action) to reduce stress and anxiety (a mental reaction). The app offers both guided and unguided meditations with varying times to suit every need.

Calm. Get lost in a breathing session and return to your inner calm with this namesake app. Guided meditations include everything from nature sounds to timed breathing exercises to narrated stories of varying lengths. The premium version gives
you access to a full library that stretches beyond meditation and can even set you up for a productive workday or small movements to get the blood flowing. Or stick with the basics to feel a moment of peace through the breathing exercises. —K.T.


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Take It Down a Notch

There’s balance to everything, and recharging is equally as important as social interaction. Here are some ways to wind down on your own when exercise isn’t an option.

Drink up (the sun). Grab a glass of water and get your daily dose of vitamin D by simply stepping outside. Don’t forget to hydrate, as it may help contribute to your overall health. Let your skin soak up the rays (after applying sunscreen, of course).

Be mindful. Step away from screens and engage in a mindful activity, such as reading a physical book or completing a puzzle. Try journaling about your day right before your head hits the pillow to clear your thoughts. Not only will it allow your eyes to rest, but studies have shown that taking a break from screens (that means your iPad and e-reader, too) allows a natural surge of melatonin to help you sleep better, per the National Institutes of Health.

Fall into a routine.
One of the largest causes of stress, ironically, is not having a solid routine. Having a structured schedule can create calmness during a chaotic period of your life. Try having a set bedtime and morning routine along with set eating times, and let the rest fall around that schedule. —K.T.


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5 Tips for Better Relationships


Courtesy of Cynthia Wilcox

Pawtucket resident Cynthia Wilcox has been a licensed therapist for more than five decades, counseling thousands of clients throughout the years. Last year, she compiled her most common strategies into the book Simple Therapy Snippets, published by Stillwater Press with illustrations by her friend Thea Ernest.

Here are some of her tips for strengthening your relationships with partners, family members and friends.

Buy your relationship a balloon. “Relationships are living, breathing things,” Wilcox says. “It needs to be nurtured, needs to be held, needs to be watered. You can’t just put it in the corner — it will die.” Do something special — the proverbial balloon — with your partner several times a week, whether it’s giving them a hug, cooking a meal together or taking a walk around the block.

Feel Your Feelings. Emotions, even uncomfortable ones like anger, sadness and grief, need to be felt and released, Wilcox says. One of her clients had a rocking chair for feelings, sitting and swaying whenever difficult emotions arose.


Courtesy of Cynthia Wilcox

Quash Relentless Hope. Relentless hope is holding on to the feeling that things will change despite overwhelming proof. “We hope and we hope and we hope, even when all the evidence says we should give up hope,” Wilcox says. “We do that so we don’t have to grieve.” 

Watch an old movie. Family meals and celebrations can be fraught with anxiety. A good way to diffuse the situation is to pretend you’re watching an old movie: You know someone’s going to complain about the stuffing, and someone else will take a political stance. Just don’t respond to it, Wilcox says. Pretend it’s a movie, one that plays out the same way every time.

Tell me more. It’s easy to get defensive when someone shares their feelings, especially if it’s because of your actions, Wilcox says. The next time that happens, fight the urge to defend yourself, take a deep breath and say, “Tell me more.” Chances are your partner will feel heard and open up to you. —D.L.

Mind and Body 

We chat with a clinical psychologist about the close link between mental and physical health.

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Margaret H Bublitz, Courtesy of Lifespan

Picture this: You’re stuck in traffic, behind on a big work project, and your child’s school just left a voicemail on your cell phone. What’s more, you have a pounding headache, you didn’t sleep well again last night, and you’re getting over your third cold this year.

Sound familiar? According to Margaret Bublitz (below left), a clinical psychologist and senior research scientist at Lifespan’s Women’s Medicine Collaborative and assistant professor at Brown University, this merging of stress and physical symptoms isn’t unusual, nor is it a coincidence. Years of scientific studies have revealed a close relationship between mental and physical health, with stress levels influencing everything from chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer to the likelihood you’ll catch a cold.

“For a long time, they were really thought of as two separate things,” she says. “Over the course of time, what researchers have discovered is this really physiological link between the experience of psychological stress and chronic disease.”

Bublitz sees this daily at the Women’s Behavioral Medicine unit, where she works with women to address their mental health needs during and after pregnancy. During the pandemic, she says, a period marked by loneliness and high stress levels for many patients, providers saw an increase in maternal mortality, hemorrhaging and cardiovascular conditions in pregnant women. One of the goals of the Women’s Medicine Collaborative is to have providers available to treat mental health needs immediately.

“As we’re learning more and more about the link between mental and physical health, our health care models are starting to move in that direction where we’re embedding mental health into obstetric care and primary care,” she says. “We realized treating one without the other is much less effective than treating both together.”

So what should you do if you’re getting treatment for a physical condition and worried about your mental health, or vice versa? Bublitz says to start with a conversation with your provider. They can check if your anxiety or depression is due to an underlying physical condition such as thyroid issues or a vitamin D deficiency and prescribe therapy or medication. She also recommends self-help resources to patients who are dipping their toes into the mental health world or waiting to get set up with treatment. These include the Insight Timer meditation app, BetterHelp online therapy platform and Treatments That Work series from Oxford University Press.

Ultimately, she sees the close ties between mental and physical health as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

“We can intervene on a physical level and improve mental health, and we can improve mental health to make changes to one’s physiology. That, to me, sounds like a great opportunity that we could do a better job in the health care system at harnessing,” Bublitz says. —L.C.

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Get Help Now

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or thoughts of suicide, call the 24/7 statewide BH Link hotline at 988. Or you can use the Crisis Text Line to connect with a crisis coordinator within twenty-five seconds on average. Text HELLO to 988 and communicate until you feel safe. BH Link’s behavioral health facility at 975 Waterman Ave. in East Providence is also open 24/7. bhlink.org

Hotline Help

Someone who cares is just a call away.

National Suicide & Crisis Hotline: Call 988

ANAD Eating Disorder Helpline: 1-888-375-7767

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

Latino Mental Health Network: mhnri.wixsite.com/latinomhnetworkri

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-6264

National Eating Disorder Association Hotline: Text or call 1-800-931-2237. Online chatting available.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Teen Hotline: Call 1-800-852-8336 or text TEEN to 839863

Trans Hotline: 1-877-565-8860

Trevor Project: Call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678

Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and press 1 or text 838255


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