There is a lot going on in the world around us.
From the pandemic to politics, it can be a lot to handle. It can get overwhelming to constantly hear about COVID-19 cases going up, political tensions in the U.S. and abroad, the continuing fight against systemic racism, human rights under attack worldwide and refusals to do more to combat climate change. It is upsetting, but it’s information we hear every day. All of this bad news can take a toll.
It is important to remember to take care of our mental health now more than ever. Especially with COVID-19 cases rising and more restrictions under consideration, life can become extremely isolating rather quickly. In Rhode Island, there has already been a rise in people seeking help to manage mental health.
There are multiple parts to properly taking care of our mental health. One, there is still a stigma surrounding the importance of mental health care; two, resources must become available and accessible for everyone; and three, even if we do not seek professional help for mental health care, it is still important to prioritize it ourselves.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the stigma surrounding mental health care and mental illness can prevent people from seeking proper treatment. Although the attitude toward mental health has drastically improved in recent years, there is still a ways to go.
In order to combat this stigma, one easy thing to do is to educate yourself and others regarding mental health care and mental health illnesses. It is important to remember the brain is an organ in the body as well, and these mental illnesses have physiological and neurological bases. Therefore, why should these illnesses be treated any differently from a disease of another organ?
“It is important to remember the brain is an organ in the body as well, and these mental illnesses have physiological and neurological bases. Therefore, why should these illnesses be treated any differently from a disease of another organ?”
Once the stigma surrounding mental health decreases and is eradicated, it is possible more resources for mental health care become more available.
It is also important to look at mental health care from an intersectional standpoint — depending on our identities, we face different struggles, and these problems must be addressed differently. Studies have shown Black men are at higher risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety due to societal factors such as discrimination and unemployment. However, due to a lack of therapists in certain communities, the cost of care and stigma, many of these individuals do not receive treatment.
In general, there are many people who do not have access to proper mental health care due to lack of therapists nearby with openings, practices incompatible with a specific type of insurance and costs.
This should not be happening. Mental health is important, and everyone who needs mental health care should have proper access to it. Although this is not something that we ourselves can fix, it is important to be aware of this and call for action in ways we can.
We as individuals must also learn how to prioritize our own mental health. Yes, a large part of it is a shift of the work and school schedules we have; everyone must start recognizing that mental health is important and employers and educators should make changes in their respective environments so that people are less stressed and are empowered to take care of their mental health.
“The first thing is to just remember to take care of yourself. Even if this is something as setting a reminder to disconnect from work and school for 15-30 minutes, it can help. Something else that can help is to reach out to friends and family.”
However, there are things that we can all do as well. The first thing is to just remember to take care of yourself. Even if this is something as setting a reminder to disconnect from work and school for 15-30 minutes, it can help. Something else that can help is to reach out to friends and family. The COVID-19 pandemic can be extremely isolating, with everyone cooped up at home for a significant part of the day; by remaining in contact with others, you may perhaps feel a bit less isolated. Understand that you are not alone; if you reach out to others, you may find your peers are also having trouble dealing with their mental health and therefore you can work together to improve it.
Not adequately caring for your mental health can be detrimental in the long run. If it is something you yourself can handle, start prioritizing it. Otherwise, seek professional help and work to educate others about mental health struggles. Remember: your mental health matters.