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Cuomo brings New Yorkers free mental health resources with Headspace app

Nearly half of Americans are anxious about the possibility of contracting COVID-19

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is encouraging a New York state of mindfulness.

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The governor of New York has teamed up with meditation app Headspace to offer free content from the mental health resource for those in the Empire State grappling with anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

"This virus has been emotionally taxing for all New Yorkers - we're not built to be isolated for long periods of time without human contact or to see the large numbers of people getting sick around us," Cuomo said in a statement. "Now more than ever it's critical that New Yorkers stay healthy both physically and mentally, and these resources will help people cope with rising levels of stress and anxiety during this unprecedented public health crisis."

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On Sunday, Cuomo told New Yorkers he too was suffering from cabin fever and is going to take up jogging as a way to cope.

Headspace, which typically costs users $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year, curated a special collection of meditation, sleep and movement exercises to help uplift individuals through stressful times. The content includes audio meditation tracks that are 10 minutes and less, and tracks to help people fall asleep that are close to an hour long. There’s also a meditation series available for kids.

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In this new normal, doctor visits and therapy sessions have been increasingly conducted remotely with the rise of telehealth. And free access to an outlet for meditation, which has been proven to treat anxiety, is another way people can cope during this challenging time.

The stress, anxiety and isolation associated with the coronavirus pandemic are taking a toll on Americans. Nearly half of people living in the U.S. are anxious about the possibility of getting COVID-19, and 62 percent are anxious about a friend or loved one becoming infected, according to a survey from the American Psychiatric Association. What’s more, mental health hotlines around the country have seen a surge in calls since the outbreak’s inception, the Washington Post reported.

The death toll in New York has climbed to more than 4,150, and there have been more than 122,000 confirmed cases. As of Monday, the U.S. had 347,003 confirmed cases.

As a result, therapists are relying on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability-compliant platforms – which ensure patient privacy is protected -- such as Zoom, TheraNest and Doxy when conducting remote sessions. And a number of apps offer online services to help users cope.

Talkspace, for example, pairs individuals with a therapist and offers digital therapy via live video or audio. Prices vary between $65 and $99 weekly, though the app is covered by some employee assistance programs. MDLive, an urgent care app that offers therapy, also takes insurance.

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"These resources will help people cope with rising levels of stress and anxiety during this unprecedented public health crisis." 

- Gov. Andrew Cuomo 

The fear of getting laid off is also a looming financial worry for many Americans, considering a record 6.6 million filed for unemployment benefits last week. Indeed, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of workers in homes with annual incomes under $40,000, two-thirds of part-time employees  (68 percent) and 60 percent of hourly employees worry about lost income, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit source for national health policy issues.

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