Hey Zoom: How Do I Stay Safe While Exercising My Right to Protest?

Black Lives Matter protest outside ZOOM+Care

Hey Zoom, 

I want to show my support for the Black Lives Matter movement by marching, but I’m worried about COVID-19. Do you have any advice for protesting safely during a pandemic?

Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Erik Vanderlip, weighs in with some advice:

That’s an excellent question.

Staying safe and supporting our Black and African American communities are not mutually exclusive endeavors. Police brutality and racism are lethal public health issues that both predate and contribute to COVID-19. Embracing the struggle for racial justice should engender safer, healthier communities for all of us.

The challenge is that, yes—right now, we are in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic. We are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases within the communities we serve. As we show our support to Black Lives Matter, we can’t sweep the threat of COVID-19 under the rug. In reality, ignoring safety concerns threatens African Americans as much, if not more, as communities of color are more likely to bear the brunt of our shared disregard for public health and safety. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that racial and ethnic minority groups experience disproportionate risk of illness and death from COVID-19.

There are several things you can do to protect yourself and others if you’ve chosen to show solidarity by protesting or marching. Firstly, don’t go if you’re having symptoms! There is a very real risk of asymptomatic transmission, but the presence of COVID-19 symptoms likely means you’re more infectious. So, if you’re having symptoms, stay home, take care of yourself, and limit others’ risk. As a reminder, the symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, loose stools, generalized aches and pains, and the recent loss of taste or smell. 

Secondly, wear a mask in public. Prioritize large-scale outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings, as the risk of transmission is lower in open-air environments.  

Health experts are urging protesters not to sing and shout to reduce the threat of person-to-person transmission. However, I understand how some of these tips can be difficult to follow. If you’re angry and frustrated, you want to express that feeling—and loudly! Because shouting especially raises the risk of transmission, consider ways to either magnify your voice with noise makers or instruments. These can help amplify your message while reducing shouting and vocalizing.  

Finally, don’t forget to wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Bring along a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol-and-gel based. Use it frequently, and avoid touching your face. Masking should also help deter face-touching. Consider using the restroom before going out in public to minimize group bathroom breaks. Avoid sharing drinks, cups, vape pens, pieces of pizza, and water bottles. If you want to wear gloves, go for it—but you may have to change them frequently. Gloves keep the virus from getting on your hands, so if you’re touching your face with your gloves, there’s not much point to wearing them! And remember, gloves are no substitution for proper hand hygiene. You still need to wash your hands after you take the gloves off. 

There are other safety concerns to keep in mind while that aren’t related to COVID-19. We’ve seen many protest-related injuries in our clinics, including sprains, strains from long walks, and burns. When attending a protest or march, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, pants, and comfortable shoes. Wear things you feel comfortable in that cover, but aren’t too restrictive, in case you come into contact with some hazardous materials.

If you don’t feel safe attending protests or marching, remember that there are many ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Meaningful action can take the form of more than marching or protesting. It can mean individual volunteering. It can mean writing a letter to your local representative, signing petitions, joining a task force, donating money, time, expertise, or other resources to groups also fighting for Black Lives Matter.

The best gift you can give a cause is your attention and time. We all have a part to play in the fight for racial justice. While our roles might look a little different, it doesn’t make them any less important. 

Remember what you’re at the protest for. Both COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter are marathons rather than sprints—don’t sacrifice both by burning yourself out. We’re going to need everyone’s efforts in the coming months and years to see our communities achieve the health and safety they deserve.

Have a question for one of our providers? Write us at marketing@zoomcare.com.

Here’s What Using ZOOM+Care for Mental Health Is Like

Q: What’s different about your approach to mental healthcare?

Have you ever sought help from a mental health professional? Think of what that experience was like: Did you have to get a referral from your primary care physician first? Did you call around to dozens of providers, only to be met with long wait times and limited availability? And when you finally did get in to see someone, were they even a good fit? Or, maybe you’re one of the million Americans who have never sought help for their mental health because there were too many obstacles in the way.

No doubt about it, there’s a mental healthcare accessibility problem in our country. Zoom wants to change that. As part of our mission to make mental health care easy and accessible, we offer on-demand visits with or without a referral. Getting help is as simple as scheduling a same-day ZOOM+Care visit, either virtually or in person, directly from your smartphone.

Our approach is a radical departure from the long wait times and barriers of traditional mental healthcare, but we know that change comes with questions. We’re here to answer yours with a little help from Zoom’s Chief Medical Officer—and board-certified psychiatrist—Dr. Erik Vanderlip. Read on to discover what it’s like to use Zoom for Mental Health.

First things first: How do I schedule a visit?

You don’t need a referral to use ZOOM+Care Mental Health. You can schedule a visit (either in person, or through VideoCare) directly from your phone.

However, Dr. Vanderlip says, “There is no wrong door for getting mental healthcare at Zoom. You can begin your mental health journey at any of our ZOOM+Care clinics as well. It’s up to you how you want to use Zoom—whether your concern is urgent or not, we have a solution for you.”

So I can go to any ZOOM+Care for mental health, too?

Yes! Like we said, there is no wrong door to mental healthcare at Zoom.

“Say you’re on an anti-anxiety medication like an SSRI, and you’ve been taking it for years,” Vanderlip explains. “If you just need a refill, you can see any Zoom provider. If we can’t address your issue there, we will recommend that you see a Mental Healthcare specialist—and that specialist will pick up where your ZOOM+Care provider left off.”

How does a mental health visit at ZOOM+Care differ from a traditional mental healthcare visit?

At Zoom, we enable patients to make their own decisions about their mental health.

In the words of Dr. Vanderlip, “We’re different because we believe that you can understand what’s happening to you, and if you don’t, we can help. Zoom is all about putting the power in your hands as an individual, and giving you the agency to decide how and when you want to see us—and who you want to see.”

Will I see the same provider every time?

The choice is yours.

“If you want to see the same Mental Health Specialist every time, you can.” Vanderlip explains. “We make that as easy as possible by allowing you to schedule appointments up to a month in advance. But if your provider gets sick or goes on vacation, then we have a whole team of mental health experts who can offer you insight and guidance.”

That’s interesting! What are some of the advantages of team-based healthcare?

It’s all part of making sure you get care soon as you need it—on demand.

“We have an intensive, team-based philosophy,” Vanderlip explains. “It’s part of how we provide better care. In traditional mental healthcare systems, you can call your doctor and leave them a message if you need anything. But in those systems, doctors burn out because they’re returning 50 phone calls a day. They never have enough time to focus on the person in front of them. When you see a ZOOM+Care provider, the focus is 100% on you and the time you’ve got together. Our providers are not distracted by something else—that’s one of the ways we provide really great healthcare—and it’s no different for mental health as well.”

What treatments does ZOOM+Care Mental Health offer?

That’s up to you, too.

“Our number one goal is to help you make sense of what’s happening to you, and then offer a range of treatment possibilities for you to consider. We help you understand the pros and cons of each treatment, then let you decide what sounds best,” Vanderlip says.

“If it’s therapy, we don’t do intensive psychotherapy within Zoom. However, we can connect you with a community partner that does. We can also direct you to great resources such as apps or books to personalize your approach to therapy. And in each visit, our team of fantastic mental health providers can infuse basic therapy principles to help you on your journey to recovery. If it’s medication, we can prescribe most medications. Our providers offer great advice and guidance on how to use medication to help you get over what you’re struggling with.”

So what you’re saying is, I’m in the driver’s seat?

Absolutely.

“We don’t want to be a big part of your life,” says Dr. Vanderlip. “We want to get you to a place where you feel better and functional, and then we want to get out of your hair. Our goal is to be as minimally invasive as possible—in many ways, we’re just your copilots in mental health. You’re calling the shots.”

Are there any treatments and medications you DON’T offer?

Yes. We don’t prescribe certain medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, or Ativan – commonly known as benzodiazepines. We’re also unable prescribe medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorder such as methadone, buprenorphine or suboxone, and long-acting injectable antipsychotics like haloperidol decanoate and Abilify Maintena.

If you need stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin, amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate, Dexedrine, Vyvanse, we require an in-person or VideoCare visit with one of our Mental Health or Internal Medicine providers. We are unable to prescribe those medications via ChatCare.

Curious about what conditions we treat (and how we treat them)? Learn more about what to expect from a ZOOM+Care Mental Health visit.

Hey Zoom, Fidget Spinners Don’t Actually Help with Anxiety, Do They?

There’s no research on fidget spinners, but some psychiatrists are optimistic that the toy can help kids with autism avoid more disruptive behaviors. It may also reduce nervous habits like nail biting.

Like stress balls or worry stones, it’s really how you choose to use a fidget spinner that matters.

Continue reading “Hey Zoom, Fidget Spinners Don’t Actually Help with Anxiety, Do They?”

Hey Zoom, is Drinking LaCroix All Day Bad For Me?

Gulp. We hope not. But now that you mention it… a bunch of rumors about the health risks of carbonated water are coming to mind.

Given our nationwide obsession with LaCroix (which Zoom has no affiliation with, by the way), it’s time to double-check the research.

Continue reading “Hey Zoom, is Drinking LaCroix All Day Bad For Me?”

Hey Zoom, Is It OK to Suggest Someone Get Help for Anxiety or Depression?

It depends on where you’re coming from, says Erik Vanderlip, MD MPH, Psychiatrist and Zoom’s Mental Health Team Lead.

Here’s why you should give yourself a gut-check before bringing up potential anxiety or depression — and how to express your concern the right way.

Continue reading “Hey Zoom, Is It OK to Suggest Someone Get Help for Anxiety or Depression?”

Hey Zoom: Should I Be Eating All This Activated Charcoal?

Great question. We’ve been eating a fair share of activated charcoal ourselves. The Salty Caramel Ash ice cream at Frankie and Jo’s is delicious. And when you’re having a horrible day, there’s nothing like sipping a smoothie that’s as black as your mood.

We consulted a ZOOM+Care doc to find out if this stuff is helping or hurting us.

Continue reading “Hey Zoom: Should I Be Eating All This Activated Charcoal?”

Hey Zoom: Is Doing the Nude Bike Ride Good for My Mental Health?

YES! And we’re not just saying that because we plan to take pics and blackmail you when you run for office, start a company, or file for custody of your children.

“If you do the Nude Bike Ride the right way, it can boost your confidence and resilience,” says Psychiatrist and Zoom Mental Health Team Lead Erik Vanderlip, MD MPH.

Here’s how to turn June 24th into your own personal pep rally. Continue reading “Hey Zoom: Is Doing the Nude Bike Ride Good for My Mental Health?”

Hey Zoom, I Keep Thinking About the MAX Attack and I’m Scared to Ride the Train. Is This Normal?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Mental Health professionals, it’s that they’re not keen on labelling stuff “normal” or “not normal.” But when we cornered ZOOM+Care Psychiatrist Erik Vanderlip, MD, MPH, and insisted he answer your question, he said “Well, it isn’t abnormal.”

“When something happens in the world around us that’s traumatizing and awful, it can open old psychological wounds or create new ones,” says Dr. Vanderlip. “The closer and more directly we’re impacted, the deeper the wound and the slower it is to heal.”

Luckily, there are proven ways to overcome your anxiety.

Continue reading “Hey Zoom, I Keep Thinking About the MAX Attack and I’m Scared to Ride the Train. Is This Normal?”