Behavioral Health Resources on Zika

Learn practical steps to ease stress and anxiety about the Zika virus. Access resources for public health officials, pregnant women, travelers, and more.

The Zika virus, primarily spread by a type of mosquito, is an ongoing major public health concern that has sparked massive media coverage. When you hear about the spread of the Zika virus, you might have stress and anxiety about protecting yourself and your loved ones from disease. The following tips and resources explain simple steps you can take to stay informed and reduce your stress and anxiety.

Reducing Stress and Anxiety Related to Zika

SAMHSA provides a tip sheet on coping with stress related to infectious disease outbreaks. It explains common signs of stress, when to get help, and how to manage and relieve the stress.

To reduce stress and anxiety specifically related to Zika, try these tips:

1. Stay informed. Get your information from reliable sources.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider for accurate health information.
  • Turn to knowledgeable, trustworthy sources, such as a state or local health department; U.S. government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or a global organization like the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • If the media coverage raises your stress and anxiety, take time away from the news to focus on things in your life that are going well and that you can control.

2. Know the symptoms of Zika, and speak to a healthcare provider immediately if you believe you may have contracted the virus.

3. Take action to protect yourself and others from possible Zika exposure.

  • Use insect repellent and wear clothing that covers your arms, legs, and feet to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Get rid of sources of standing water, which are breeding areas for mosquitoes.

For Public Health Officials: Risk Communication During the Zika Outbreak

During an outbreak such as Zika, it is important for community officials to share accurate and timely information so the public can protect themselves and remain calm. Public health officials can follow these best practices for communication during an outbreak:

  • Use simple messages and provide updates regularly.
  • Release information in a timely manner. Late release of crucial information could cause mistrust in the community.
  • Be honest and open. Address any rumors that may be going around.
  • Show expertise. It will help reduce anxiety and uncertainty in the community.
  • Express empathy to build trust and rapport in the community.

Health officials can learn more about managing the public’s stress and anxiety from these WHO resources:

Zika Resources

For reputable information about the symptoms and spread of Zika, access SAMHSA DTAC’s Zika Virus Resources DBHIS installment or CDC’s web page, About Zika Virus Disease.

Access resources by audience:

For Pregnant Women

  • Zika and Pregnancy: CDC outlines basic facts and guidelines for pregnant women, including information on the link between Zika and the birth defect microcephaly. CDC also explains what pregnant women should do if they live in areas without Zika or areas with Zika, as well as guidelines for all women in areas with Zika.
  • Promoting Stress Management for Pregnant Women During the Zika Virus Disease Outbreak: In this resource for healthcare providers, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response provides communication and coping strategies to help alleviate pregnant women’s stress over the threat of Zika.
  • Anxiety About Zika During Pregnancy: This article from the Seleni Institute provides useful tips for pregnant women to help them manage anxiety about Zika. It discusses the risks of Zika to pregnant women, the fetus, and families.

For Parents

  • What Parents Should Know About Zika: CDC provides information on how parents can help protect their children from the Zika virus and what symptoms may arise if a child is infected.
  • What Parents Need To Know About Zika Virus: HHS’ Office of Human Services Preparedness and Response offers general information about Zika and how to protect your child from it. It also offers tips on how to talk to your child about the virus.
  • Preventing Zika: To help kids learn, Sesame Street Workshop offers resources and videos about the Zika virus and ways children can protect themselves from it.

For Travelers

CDC offers Zika Travel Information, broken down by country.

For Employers and Workers

To help people who work outside, federal agencies have released Interim Guidance for Protecting Workers From Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus. It addresses reducing the chance of contracting Zika, dealing with exposures and cases among employees, safe travel, and links to related resources. The guidance also is available as a fact sheet – 2016 (PDF |476 KB).

Last Updated: 09/21/2018