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  • NASW-IL Staff

April 2020 - East Central District Update

Mary Garrison, LCSW, ACSW, East Central District Chair

Hello to you all:

We are in unprecedented times, a “temporary new normal,” and we are all feeling this very deeply. As I write this update, we are all sheltering in place in response to Governor Pritzker’s order so we can flatten the curve and avoid infection. I know you are all engaging in your work inside your home or in the community as necessary and are being challenged both personally and professionally in every aspect of our lives. I hope you are doing your best to take care yourselves and your families FIRST and then focusing on being the amazing social workers you are to others. This is such an important time for self-care, and I hope you will heed the advice I am sure you provide to your clients, patients, residents, all with whom you work. I have been posting a daily mental health tip on Facebook to help others and as a reminder to take care of myself. Please see my tips below for your use.

If I know my great social work colleagues, you will get through this (and we will do it together!), and you will continue to provide critical services to those you serve. Please do not hesitate to reach out for support and guidance to each other and our chapter during this time.

Welcome to our newest members and to those that have renewed your membership—we are so glad you are a part of the NASW-Illinois Chapter family!

Please note: I plan to host a district event very soon, so please be sure to check the NASW-Illinois Chapter website and your e-mails for that session. It will be a great way for us to connect and support one another! Details to come.



Due to COVID-19, all chapter and district events have been canceled for the foreseeable future. In light of these circumstances, the chapter has been shifting its attention to identifying speakers who would be willing to convert their CEU trainings to a virtual training with the chapter. If you have suggestions of presenters in your area or would like to propose a training yourself, please contact Joel Rubin ( about coming up with a CEU training for the chapter.


DEADLINE: Monday, April 27, 2020

The NASW-Illinois Chapter is still seeking ethics presentations for our fall conference that are creative, interactive, and audience-engaged. We’re searching for dynamic presenters who can lead social workers through discussions and peer-sharing about topics relating to ethics. Presentations can be from 60, 90, or 120 minutes in length and must fulfill IDFPR requirements for ethics education. We want ethics to be fun—as such we are strongly discouraging lecture-only based presentations. Read more here:


DEADLINE: April 30, 2020

Don’t forget to vote! Elections for the 2020 NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors begins on April 1st. Please check the chapter website for the full election slate as well as bios for each of the candidates. Ballots have been e-mailed out as well. Take part in and voice your opinion in this year’s chapter election!


The NASW-Illinois Chapter has been working non-stop with state, national, and chapter leadership to pull together resources to help members best proceed with providing clinical services to clients during the ongoing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Illinois. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out some of the below resources to help support the work of social workers and the clients they serve. Most are updated almost daily with more information as it becomes available to us and the national NASW office.



10 Essential Mental Health Tips To Use During COVID-19

Provided by Professor Garrison (aka “Prof Meg”), LCSW, ACSW

1. Create a Daily Schedule – we are in a “temporary new normal”. This will not go on forever but for the time we are in this, it is important to get up each day and have a plan and stick to the plan – even if you don’t have specific work/deadlines to meet. Sheltering in place in our homes has forced us to change our entire daily routines and it is essential that we create a daily schedule in order for us stay healthy. This will help us manage the “unknowns” that we are experiencing and allow us to “control what we can”.

2. Reach Out and Connect - please know social Isolation/distancing does NOT equal emotional isolation/distancing. It is very common during such times of difficulty and crisis to have increased anxiety, feelings of loneliness, worry and fear. We are in this together and it is essential that we stay connected emotionally – please reach out to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and support lines for help. Some ways to reach out include contacting:

  • American Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

  • Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741

  • 211 – this will provide you mental health resources in your home area

  • NAMI HELPLINE: 1-800-950-NAMI

3. Consume and Share Validated/Accurate Information with Caution/Limits – there is an overwhelming amount of information that is available via TV, radio, newspapers and online sources with 24 hours a day access. It is imperative that you consume accurate information, not rumors, and that your access to that information is managed and limited. It is essential to stay updated about COVID-19, but if we take in too much information and are unclear of its accuracy, this will increase our fear, worry and anxiety. Specifically choose your news source and a time of day you will access it.

4. Exercise and Eat Healthy - gyms and some parks are closed but there are other to get daily exercise. From free online streaming videos, to walking in your neighborhood or evening pulling out old exercise DVD’s there are options! It is important to manage your eating – if you are a stress eater, make sure to have a routine for your eating and don’t eat because it is in front of you or you are board. If you tend to not eat when you are stressed, set a schedule to make sure you eat. If you have the option to each healthy foods, do so as much as possible.

5. Try to Relax – it may seem odd to think we can relax during a shelter in place order due to a pandemic but we can….think about what is relaxing to you and make time to do that at least a few times a week – it is really recommended daily! Suggestions…reading a book, playing a game, medication, yoga, deep breathing, listening to music, and more!

6. Address Your Spiritual Needs - whether you typically engage in organized religion or address your spiritual needs in other ways, it is so important to get those needs met and connect with your higher power, who or whatever that is for you.. Many churches are live streaming services and there are many spiritual resources online or that you may already practice at home – it may not be how you typically get your spiritual needs met, but during this difficult time it is better to utilize the resources that are out there temporarily instead of going without spiritual support.

7. Volunteer as you can – mutual aid in our community is happening and there are ways to get involved. Volunteering can provide us purpose and a way to give back whether it is on the “front lines” or “from behind the scenes”. If you are part of an at risk group, please do not put yourself at risk and volunteer from home.

8. Complete a Project – for a productive distraction, work on a project that you have wanted to do for a long time but have not been able to! Clean out your closet, organize your pantry, start a new hobby. All of these can help you take your mind off all that is happening temporarily allowing for a healthy perspective.

9. Get Enough Sleep - sleep is always important. With our uprooted routines and the unknown we are experiencing, disruption to your sleep will be common. Work to keep your sleep schedule as routine as you can and attempt to get at least 7 hours a night. This should be a part of your daily schedule!

10. Grant yourself Grace – we are all trying to do the best we can with our “temporary new normal”. Please do not put pressure on yourself to adapt easily, “get it the first time” or “be perfect”….we just need to do the best we can and give ourselves Grace. We will come through this together and you are amazing!

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