Though a lot of attention is paid to our physical fitness, our mental health and well-being often takes a back burner in doctor-patient conversations. To provide adequate care, we need to discuss both.
May is Mental Health Month, so it’s the perfect time to bring awareness to issues and behaviors that may impact our happiness and fulfillment.
About Mental Health
Though almost 450 million people worldwide suffer from mental health issues, 2/3 of those affected never seek treatment. Unfortunately, this is most likely due to social stigmas surrounding typical mental health problems such as bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. What’s dangerous is that many of these ailments can develop into serious health issues, both mentally and physically, which can prevent the person from leading a fulfilling life.
The good news is that there is a shift happening in our society and these issues are being normalized by public figures. The more open those in treatment are about their problems, the less taboo the subject will be and hopefully more people will be encouraged to seek help if they need it.
Mental Health Month
May is Mental Health Month, which means that various healthcare organizations are joining together to raise awareness and end the stigmas surrounding mental health issues.
If you’d like to participate, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, the National Council for Behavioral Health and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for ways to get involved.
Mental Health and COVID-19
If you’re grieving, feeling anxious or depressed as a result of the global pandemic, you’re not alone. Millions of people around the globe share in your collective pain and your feelings are normal. In response to the large number of people experiencing mental health challenges during this trying time, here are some suggestions for a few ways to cope until you’re able to connect with a medical professional.
- Limit your consumption of news. Though it’s important to stay informed of the ever-changing safety guidelines in our community, it’s also key to allow yourself to look away from the constant buzz.
- Take breaks. Whether you’re an essential worker at a job, working from home, or temporarily out of work and/or parenting all the while, you have to allow yourself moments to breathe. If you feel overwhelmed, take a step back for a mental break before diving into your next task.
- Monitor your nutrition. It can be tempting in times of crises to eat junk food or skip meals due to stress, but that’s not a good way to get the right ‘fuel’ for your body. You need good energy to navigate this new normal. Instead of processed foods that are likely high in sugar and saturated fat, instead make sure you’re getting enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.
- Get enough sleep. Anxiety can be the source of miserable insomnia for those who don’t usually suffer from sleep issues. Do your best to stick to a nighttime routine that involves a relaxing ritual like a hot shower or bath before bed and limit your screen time as much as possible. Some also find it helpful to meditate before bed.
- Stay connected. Though there are measures in place to promote healthy social distancing, that doesn’t mean you should refrain from calling, texting, emailing or writing to friends and family who may not be nearby. Even if you’re not alone in your home, it’s important to maintain a sense of community with others in your social group until things return to normal.
If your stress reaches a severe level and you feel like you’re a danger to yourself or others, please don’t hesitate to call for help:
- Call 911
- Call the Disaster Distress helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224
Talk to a Doctor
At Western Washington Medical Group, we believe in treating patients holistically, which includes diagnosing both the mind and body for optimal health. If you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, grief or any other mental health issue, we’re here to help you. To make an appointment with our Psychology team, complete the form on this page. For more general inquiries, complete the form on this page.