How Right Now Initiative Gaining Partners and Momentum

When it comes to the devastating effects of COVID-19, it’s not just the infection itself that threatens our well-being, but it’s the emotional toll of the ongoing pandemic that’s hitting us all hard as well. The How Right Now initiative, made possible with support from the CDC Foundation, was specifically developed to provide information and tools to help reduce stress, increase coping skills, as well as to direct those in need to mental-health, social service and other helpful resources.

A number of celebrities and athletes, including performer Lance Bass, actor Omari Hardwick, baseball hall of famer Andre Dawson and actress Melissa Joan Hart, have joined the campaign since its launch in early August. Acknowledging their own struggles during the pandemic, they offer messages of hope, along with strategies to help via social media. And more are joining the initiative every day.

The How Right Now website features an easy-to-use design that asks how you are feeling, and then directs you to sections tied to emotions like fear, grief, anger, loneliness and more. The site also guides users to dozens of pre-screened links and resources—everything from fact sheets, articles and webinars to mobile apps and crisis hotlines. “The site is designed in a way that speaks to people’s experiences right now, with resources they can use and share with others,” explains Amelia Burke-Garcia, PhD, MA, program area director at NORC at the University of Chicago.

One user—a senior resident at the Presbyterian Villages of Michigan—reports, “I’ve just shared the How Right Now website with [our] headquarters, and they are so excited about it that they are sharing it with the 4,000 residents of all 30 senior living communities throughout Michigan.”

Results like that are why more than 40 of the nation’s leading health and social organizations have teamed up as partners on the effort. “We know people want actionable steps they can take to support their mental health and wellbeing during this time. We recognized early on that the best way to address the needs of these populations would be to work directly with organizations who serve them to provide information and support related to emotional health,” said Burke-Garcia.

National, community and professional organizations taking part in the How Right Now initiative include AARP, NAACP, United Way, Red Cross, National Latino Behavioral Health Association, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and Mental Health America, among many more. And all this helpful material, including the initiative’s website, HowRightNow.org is offered in both English and Spanish (quehacerahora.org).

Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, said, “We are incredibly grateful to our partners for all their support with this effort, and together, we want to get the word out to as many people as possible who can benefit.”

And that list includes all of us—whether we’ve been directly affected by the illness, the economic impact it's had or the increased worry it’s caused to caregivers, those with pre-existing mental and physical health conditions, and those who’re experiencing and at risk for violence.

The upcoming holiday season, already an anxious and difficult time for many, now has the potential to become emotionally overwhelming, with feelings of loss, anxiety and grief threatening to erupt. How Right Now is developing specific tools to help us cope during that already stressful period, and they're encouraging everyone to reach out to family, friends and neighbors to share feelings and start a conversation. They’ve got tools to do that, with more on the way.
 



Toni Perling is a COVID-19 corps communications officer for the CDC Foundation.