Nisswa clinic to offer free calls to ease anxiety

Calls are on a first-come, first-served basis and will be limited to 20 minutes to ensure the provider can speak with multiple people.

Photo illustration by Metro Newspaper Service

After noticing a significant increase in anxiety and stress among her patients, clinical therapy intern Miranda Aulie sought to offer some relief to area residents.

In conjunction with Jennifer Vaughn, co-owner of Acquire Mental Health Clinic in Nisswa, Aulie is set to accept calls from those in need free of charge for 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. Aulie doesn’t plan to stop there — she said she will seek to make time for free therapeutic advice during these uncertain times moving forward as well.

“Monday when I was seeing clients, four out of five of them were bringing up the coronavirus and their concerns and anxiety about it,” Aulie said by phone Tuesday. “Obviously it’s weighing on a lot of people. … I think people are in a heightened state of worry and anxiety and uncertainty about the future.”

Calls are on a first-come, first-served basis and will be limited to 20 minutes to ensure Aulie can speak with multiple people. She asked callers to be respectful of these time allowances because the time outside of these hours are reserved for clients. Aulie can be reached at 218-537-7532.


Aulie said some of those concerns are stemming from the potential illness from the spreading virus itself, but also the growing financial implications and uncertainty. Aulie said she hopes to do her part to help ease worry among her lakes area neighbors.

“They always talk about living in the moment and I think for us to be as mentally healthy as we can, that’s kind of what we have to start with,” she said.

Aulie said with directives from state and federal officials to stay home as much as possible, it can be a time for people to rejuvenate, enjoy time with family and to take care of oneself — without spending too much time dwelling on an unknowable future.

Advice on staying calm

The Washington Post spoke to a number of mental health experts to gather advice on how to manage stress and anxiety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Establish healthy habits — get good sleep, eat regularly, stay hydrated and exercise. “When we take care of our body, with good sleep in particular, but certainly food and water, our ability to think clearly, our ability to solve problems, our ability to manage our emotions, are all optimized,” said psychiatrist Joshua Morganstein, the chair of the American Psychiatric Association's Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters.

  • If feeling overwhelmed, limit news consumption or staring at phones or computers.

  • Develop a strategy for day-to-day living as a means of protecting oneself and one’s community, but also as a form of mental therapy. "Having conversations with your family about what they can do to protect themselves and also what they can do to stay active, physically and socially, can be therapeutic in and of itself," Joshua Gordon, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist who is the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told The Washington Post.

  • Stay socially connected by communicating via group video chats or going the old-fashioned route — talking on the phone.

  • Make a plan for helping people who are most vulnerable, or at least making sure that someone is checking with an isolated elderly family member each day. “Remember that what is most disturbing about what we're going through is the uncertainty. When we know what's happening, when we know what to expect, we feel safe — even if what we expect might be threatening," Gordon said. "Develop a plan — find your place in the world. It can take time, it can take preparation, but it can help a lot."

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CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or . Follow on Twitter at .
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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