Karen Pence on individuals struggling during pandemic: 'It's OK to ask for help'

Karen Pence on individuals struggling during pandemic: 'It's OK to ask for help'

Second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceBiden pays his respects to John Lewis at the Capitol Trump will not visit Capitol to pay respects to civil rights icon John Lewis The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - High-ranking White House official tests positive MORE this week encouraged people struggling with mental health during the coronavirus pandemic to ask for help.

“So many of us are going through things we've never gone through before.There's no stigma to saying, 'This is really hard,” Pence said in an interview with USA Today published Friday about the everyday stresses associated with social distancing and self-isolation.

“I just think it's important to let people know it's OK to ask for help. Some of the feelings and emotions and experiences you're having are new. And so if you want help with, 'Gee, how do I handle this?’ — whatever the mental health issue might be, there are people who can help.”

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Her remarks come as suicide hotlines across the country are reporting increases in the number of calls and as people are told to stay at home to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Mental strains of the pandemic have also spiked as anxiety grows about the state of the U.S. economy. Businesses have shuttered, and tens of millions of workers across the country have filed for unemployment.

Pence, who is a member of a White House task force dedicated to suicide prevention for “veterans and all Americans,” rolled out a new campaign, called Now, More Than Ever, to spread awareness about the importance of mental health during the pandemic.

Other members of the task force include Surgeon General Jerome Adams, former presidents of the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association, and DJ Nash, creator a TV show about a group of friends who lost one of their own to suicide.

The second lady encouraged people to “get out in front” of their mental health struggles, adding that it is important for people to seek out help when they can.

“It's a necessity, just like it's not an option to wash your hands now. You absolutely must wash your hands. You must do social distancing. You must take care of your mental health.”

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“Our steps are: Check in with yourself first. If you're struggling, you're probably not going to be able to help anybody ... so get help for yourself first. And then do what you know helps you. Talk about your struggles and successes.”

“Lastly, if you feel like you, or someone that you love, is really struggling, they can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We want them to make that call.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE on Thursday released guidelines for a phased reopening of the economy that leaves the final decision up to governors. Vice President Pence has been leading the White House coronavirus task force since it was established earlier this year.

The U.S. has more than 672,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 33,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.