For 70 years, our country has celebrated the Mental Health Awareness Month, in May, to raise awareness about the state of mental health and the importance of mental health for all. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, there has never been a better time to raise awareness about mental health.
This year the theme was “Tool 2 Developing” and there were two goals: Sharing comprehensive, useful and informative mental health awareness resources; and reduce stigma around mental health disorders.
Two months into the battle with the new corona virus, we have all been touched by the mental health challenges of anxiety, sadness, isolation and stress, whether by direct attacks of the virus on our personal lives, or its impact on our livelihoods and day – the well-being of today.
It’s important for everyone to recognize there is no shame in having mental health problems. We all struggle with mental or emotional problems at some point in our lives, whether they are problems with self-esteem, stress, sadness, loneliness, anger, anxiety or depression. Some of us experience a combination of all.
When you struggle with emotions, it’s always best to talk to someone. We all know that. Talking helps. Getting help with an emotional or mood disorder is no different. Already continued to talk to someone. It talks to someone who is an expert in helping people with the problems you face. Nothing makes more sense than that.
Getting help with a mental health disorder is no different from getting help with a physical problem. When something goes wrong, you see a doctor. When you know exactly what’s wrong, you see a specialist. That’s the way mental health care works. First, you get screening. If your screening shows an underlying mental health problem, then you receive a referral to a specialist. That is easy. There is no reason to be shy or embarrassed, and there is no reason to avoid treatment when it is recommended.
I want to talk briefly about the stigma surrounding mental health in A. Historically, mental illness has been seen as something bad, as if people who have mental illness can prevent it in certain ways or choose a different path. Even today, with all the progress in every aspect of our culture, when someone reveals they have a mental illness or “seems” like they have a mental illness, the general public turns the other cheek and usually doesn’t want to interact.
Public perceptions about mental health disorders must be changed. If we have a heart condition, cancer, or other medical condition, we immediately seek help. We need to get to the point where we think of getting help with mental illness in the same light as physical illness.
Stigma associated with mental illness often makes people too shy to talk to their doctors about it, causing delays or failure to receive treatment. My hope is that people get a deeper understanding of the extent of mental health problems, have the openness to recognize mental health problems and can take the first step to get help.
One in four American adults who live with mental health conditions that can be diagnosed and can be treated and the fact is they can continue to live a full and productive life. Mental illness is more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease, making it a major cause of disability in the United States.
Pandemic stress management
The current pandemic is a source of much pressure for the whole country. Everything is justified. There are a number of reasons why COVID-19 increases stress. According to Mental Health America, people worry about illness, their loved ones get sick, accidentally transmit the virus to vulnerable individuals, adjust to life under the command of residence, adjust to virtual school and work, financial difficulties, unable to connect with family, and run out of food, water and ordinary household equipment.
Those worries are all real and they are all valid. Mental Health America offers practical advice on this concern: Realize what you can control and let go of what you cannot do.
Things you can control include:
– Your mind and body. You can eat well, get enough sleep and exercise a lot.
– your environment. You can control who comes and goes in your home, where you go, and health precautions that you take at home and when you leave.
– The things you consume. You can control the news you watch and the information you read. Tip: Listen to health experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization.
The list of things that you can’t control is endless. Suffice it to say that you cannot control what other people do or say. You also cannot determine when we will find a vaccine or when things will return to normal. In fact, no one really knows what the new “normal” will look like. Until then, we have practiced controlling what we can and letting go of what we cannot: easy to say, everyone’s challenge to do it.
For the sake of your own welfare
It’s easy to talk about mental health, but it’s not always easy to deal with psychological and emotional problems when they arise. As part of the 2020 Mental Health Awareness Month, Mental Health America lists five things everyone can do to support strong mental health:
1. Have the feeling. The ability to recognize, identify and talk about your feelings is the first step to managing the most difficult.
2. Find the positive. The best way to do this is to make a list of the things in life that you are grateful for. Positive will follow from gratitude
3. Connect with other people. During this period of isolation and social distance, it is important to reach out to family, friends and peers by telephone, message or video chat. Social contact can lift your spirits; and sometimes, having a real heart-to-heart with a friend can make all the difference.
4. Eliminating the influence of poisons. This is a time when you can identify the things in your life that are poisonous, and erase them from your life, one at a time. This includes poisonous people, toxic habits and toxic mindset.
5. Create a healthy routine. Locking COVID means most of us have extra time on our hands – and we need to fill that time with things that support mental health. This is a great time to start small and build gradual daily success. You can do this with food, exercise, sleep habits and media consumption, all of which can support or damage mental health. Make proactive choices to make routines that support positive mental health and leave routines that damage mental health, along with all the things that you consider poisonous.
If you need to seek specialist help, help is available and I encourage people who are pushed to their limits not to suffer in silence. The Dale Association has provided mental health services since 1974 and has a long history of helping people prosper.
Maureen A. Wendt is president and CEO of The Dale Association, a non-profit organization that provides senior, mental, home health care, caregiver support services, and enrichment activities for adults. For more information, call 433-1937 or visit www.daleassociation.com .