Everyone Can Relate To Mental Health Awareness Month During The Pandemic
If I were a betting person, I would be willing to bet that most people don’t know that Mental Health Awareness Month has been ongoing in this country during the month of May since 1949. Only those people who have or have had a loved one with mental health challenges are probably aware there is a whole month devoted to this issue. But this year, it’s a different story. Mental health issues are all pervasive as the pandemic has put the entire world under enormous stress.
The added stress that caregivers have been under since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic are unimaginable. Additionally, the health care providers – our doctors, nurses, first responders – have been stretched so far beyond the capacity that most people cannot even begin to understand. As I was researching for this article, I read that during normal, non-pandemic times, one doctor commits suicide in this country every day due to mental health issues. Doctors cannot even seek help with the stresses they endure without risking their practice. So they keep the pressure within until they literally fall apart.
No One Is Immune To Mental Health Issues
Mental Health Awareness Month is so important this year as it becomes apparent that no one is immune. The added pressures the pandemic has placed on people already under pressure caring for elderly loved ones who are in the throes of advanced and progressing ALZ/dementia and other conditions are having an effect on even those who would never think they could crack.
Mental Health Awareness Month is not just about understanding people with severe and very apparent schizophrenia or bipolar disorders. It’s about becoming aware of and compassionate toward those family members who are experiencing chronic depression from watching loved ones fade away before their eyes, from not being able to pay the rent or the mortgage or put food on the table for the family. It’s about men and women who are living with post-traumatic stress disorder for innumerable reasons, be it military service, first responder service, or childhood trauma. It’s the depression many people are experiencing as some isolating restrictions are being lifted yet the terror of catching COVID-19 remains strong.
The Effects Of Chronic Stress Cannot Be Ignored
I have been working with clients who have been living under chronic stress since before the pandemic began. Prior to the pandemic, these clients were able to take a break, relieve the pressure with help from other family members or paid caregivers. Since the pandemic began, I have seen many of these unpaid family caregivers struggling to keep their sanity.
It is important to understand that you are not alone, and that seeking help is imperative. There are many organizations that provide tips and ways to find the help you need. Sometimes simply reaching out to a friend, a minister or someone you respect in your community can be helpful. We are living in unusual and stressful times. Please take good care of yourself, especially if you are a caregiver.
This is the link to Mental Health America, a site that offers information and a variety of services. https://mhanational.org/adapting-after-trauma-and-stress