This month is Mental Health Awareness month in the United States. Since 1949, this month has been dedicated to raising awareness of those who face the challenges associated with various forms of mental health issues. At NPSS, while always supportive of this effort we felt that it was especially important to help put a spotlight on the issue this year.
After over a year of dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic, many people are worn out. Increases in anxiety and depression are but two indicators of the impact of this event on people. Increased calls to hotlines for psychological and emotional support have been documented. Many deferred seeking clinical help for both medical and psychological issues for fear of contracting the virus or their in-person resources were temporarily suspended due to the virus unknowns – all resulting in putting people at heightened risk.
As COVID restrictions begin to subside, people are finally getting to start catching their breath. While many weathered this storm with minimal impact, others were significantly impacted. As the reality of what we all experienced sinks in, some may need additional support.
Whether a person is dealing with a long-standing history of mental health challenges, or they are simply worn down and need some emotional and psychological support, it is important to note that the need exists and respond to it. This is a time to be supportive and not add to the historical nature of stigmatizing those needing or requesting help. People have been through enough during this pandemic – let’s be supportive!
If you see someone having a tough day ask how they’re doing. Sometimes this simple gesture can change someone’s mindset and emotional state. Peer Support in its various forms can be extremely helpful. Compassionate presence, the act of just being there, can bolster a person being challenged. If it’s you that’s challenged right now, acknowledge it and seek support. The shame should not be in having a mental health challenge – the shame should be in creating barriers to acceptance and care. Let’s use this month to help change that.