By Velena Jones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A contentious election in what’s already been an unbelievably stressful year is now prompting an unprecedented move on voting day. Sacramento Law Enforcement Chaplains are usually called on in times of dire crisis. Now, they will be offering emotional support for those stressed over this year’s election.

Regardless of who you’re voting for, election season can take its toll.

“Everything has gone against people living normal lives and now with the election tomorrow, we have more anxiety,” said Mindi Russell, Executive Director for Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Sacramento.

A battle for the White House, paired with COVID-19 and civil unrest is making those stresses skyrocket. Russell said with everything going on, she is here to help.

“Everything starts with a thought and if our thoughts are negative and feeling despair, hopelessness, we are going to go in a deep dark hole that is hard to get out,” she said.

A confidential 24/7 hotline allows anyone to call in if they need mental health support. It’s the first time the service has been used for an election. Russell expects to have around 40 calls per day this week, similar numbers to what they saw during the start of the pandemic.

“We are forever changing to help support the community right where they are. Right now the elections are huge,” she explained.

According to the American Psychological Association, 68% of American adults say the election is causing them significant stress compared to 52% in 2016. The stress is across party lines including 76% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans.

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“The individual meaning of how are these decisions impacting myself or my community, I think heightens the level of stress as well as the uncertainty that we are all seeing that we may not know on Tuesday night and it may take more time, said Dr. Kelly Greco, USC Professor and Faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

So what can you do to keep calm as election numbers roll in? Greco suggests unplugging from social media, keeping a structure, prioritizing sleep and doing something that makes you happy.

“Really normalizing this is how I feel and this is what I can do to control it. So, the decision-making process is really key, as well as we have got to lean in on our support system,” Greco said.

Thoughts of potential unrest can also cause stress.

“Thinking about safety issues of how it impacts us by even just physically seeing it and the what-ifs and the uncertainty of what is going to happen, I think causes a lot of stress,” said Greco.

Placerville police and Solano County Sheriff’s Office are also putting a message out asking their communities to treat each other with respect, adding that acts of violence from potential unrest will not be tolerated.

You can call the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Sacramento 24/7 hotline at 916-857-1801 or visit their website at http://www.sacchaplains.com

Velena Jones

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