We’ve talked about mental health since March, probably more than ever before in recent history. Things are messy and uncertain right now. Keeping your mental health in check, at least knowing where you stand daily, is one good way to recognize if you start to have a slip of bad, negative thoughts that seem to feed a pattern of anxiety, self-doubt or depression.
October 10 is Mental Health Awareness Day, so we’re going to do a little FAQ for our readers on this topic:
Q: What recommendations do you have for relaxation techniques?
A: Deep, cleansing breaths for 60 seconds are proven to slow your heart rate and lessen anxiety. If you practice this daily, you’ll have it in your toolbox when you need to relax. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reviewed several mental health apps that can help you practice calming meditation and relaxing thoughts.
Q: Is everyone experiencing peaked anxiety right now?
A: Likely so! A recent study conducted by the Journal of American Medicine says that nearly 25% of Americans are experiencing depression – that’s three times as many compared to this time in 2019. The pandemic, economic and financial uncertainty, social unrest, school and virtual learning, natural disasters and a presidential election are all expected to shake your mental health. Learn when you’ve reached your news limit so you can turn it off, and either take action for helping the causes or take mental health breaks like we discussed in the previous response.
Q: How can I recognize that I may need professional mental health help like therapy?
A: Therapy is always a good choice. Trained professionals can help you with new calming techniques and help develop coping strategies for anxiety. They also will refer you to a doctor to discuss medications if needed for treating depression or other mental health issues. Teleservices can make therapy more accessible than ever. The National Institute of Mental Health is a great resource to find services.
Q: Why is there still such a stigma around seeking help for mental health, especially among minority populations?
A: Minority populations often have a ‘buck up’ attitude from older generations, which is understandable. Addiction and mental health issues, especially those requiring medication, often require the help of trained professionals. Don’t let the fear of the unknown or stigma stand in your way from getting help. Counseling and education on what you are experiencing can help you feel stronger and reduce self-doubt. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offer a number of resources to connect with others and increase your knowledge on mental wellness.
Youth Villages’ Crisis Services can help guide you to the best professional for your child’s needs, under the age of 18. We also have a checklist of potentially risky behaviors on our website you can reference for yourself or your kids.
If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to a doctor, counselor or another loved one.
Brittany Farrar is the regional director of Middle Tennessee programs and Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services for Youth Villages. Crisis services are still available 24/7 if your child needs support. Youth Villages is available and prepared to assist your family during this time. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. You can also visit our website for additional resources.