This week’s blog is written by Dion McGill, SCY Communications and Community Outreach Manager.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but May is Mental Health Month, and I can’t think of a better time to highlight mental health. If you’re here in Chicago like I am, we are in the second month of our shelter-in-place order, and general social distancing when you must go out in public.
Last week, we shared a post on Useful Mental Health and Self-Care Apps. Be sure to go and check out that post. Recently, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Wellness Department put out a nice variety of additional resources to highlight ways that we can improve or maintain our mental health and wellness. To quote the wellness post:
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.A good way to think about mental and emotional health is like a tag team. Mental health refers to our ability to process information. Emotional health, on the other hand, refers to our ability to express feelings which are based upon the information we have processed. So, if our cognitive function is hindered by depression or anxiety, for example, we may struggle with accurately identifying a situation. This can then trigger inappropriate responses because those responses are based upon inaccurate thoughts.
*1 in 5 people in the workplace experience a mental health condition. (www.nami.org)
- Value ourselves: Treat ourselves with kindness and respect and avoid self- criticism.
- Take care of our body: Taking care of ourselves physically, can improve our mental health.
- Surround ourselves with good people: People with strong family and social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network.
- Give: Volunteer our time and energy to help someone else.
- Learn how to deal with stress: Learn good coping skills to help respond to everyday stressors.
- Quiet our mind: Try meditating or other relaxation exercises. Research shows that meditation may help us feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs: Keep alcohol to minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol or other drugs to “self- medicate” but in reality they only aggravate problems.
- Get help when we need it: Seeking help is a sign of strength – not a weakness. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction. Important resources for getting help:
- Aunt Bertha – A social care network that connects people and programs
- Psychhub – A free resource hub to help people with their mental health needs during COVID-19
- Veterans Support Line
As we begin to move into the “reopening” phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to find ourselves in situations that may elicit stress and/or anxiety. Please be sure that you’re taking care of yourself, and those around you. We are all in this together.