2020 Pandemic and Mental Health – World Mental Health Day

Every year since 1992, October 10th (tomorrow) has been identified as a day to recognize mental health. The main objective is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to initiate efforts in support of mental health.

A few of the previous themes include suicide prevention, young people and mental health in a changing world, mental health in the workplace, and psychological first aid. This year, the theme is anticipated to be, mental health for all. In light of the events of this current year, more than ever, the need for mental health awareness, support, and abolishment of stigma should be supported and advocated for.

When we are living in a global pandemic, it can be difficult to recognize everything that we have truly gone through. That’s because we are living it! We are surviving over thriving every day in an effort to maintain physical, social, emotional, and mental stability. And it’s truly hard! In this instance, we are more separated from one another in terms of physical closeness, but across the globe we have so much in common.

We are physically separated. People have lost their loved ones, sometimes in tragic ways. The amount and length of isolation has led to depression, and the economic downfall has led to feelings of hopelessness, increased stress, and anxiety. People have a lack of purpose, reliving the same day with the same guidelines for weeks and months at a time with limited change and hope insight that things will ever go back to “normal.” The amount of time spent on social media and the impact of the news has further isolated people and affected their feelings of stress as the loss of control over their own lives becomes more and more evident.

Without a global pandemic, and just one main stressor, people can react and cope in ways that align with a mental health diagnosis. Now imagine experiencing all of these major stressors! A family member dies, you’ve been laid off, you are forced to move, you become sick yourself, and the pressure puts strain on your own relationships. This is not an unlikely or less than plausible scenario for many. Coping skills included talking to other people, engaging in social activities, going to the gym, pushing through a structured and organized day, and suddenly that’s gone. It is no wonder we are in a mental health crisis. That suicide rates have gone up. That children are experiencing more symptoms of depression and stress.

However, people have also come out stronger. They have been challenged to reinvent their lives. They have been triggered to increase their focus on their own mental health as a way to cope. We have altered what the state of normal really is. And while it’s uncomfortable, may have been able to achieve it. Some days are better than others for sure!

Please remember, that here in the United States, there is wide variety of how “normal” is identified. Just because you are a United States citizen, doesn’t mean that you have access to affordable housing, food, or an income. Everyone has had to adjust and cope in their own ways. I urge you to recognize that this pandemic reaches outside of your own neighborhood, city, state, and country. Some countries have had fewer resources, or had to adapt with basic needs not having been met.

Mental health services should be available for all across the world and be uniquely made for all the differences. There is no one size fits all in terms of mental health and how to treat it, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed at all.

Practice your gratitude and recognize your own achievements up to today. Applaud yourself for whatever moment you are at, and reach out when you need support and help. Mental health has been affected by all this year, and the more we recognize and advocate for services and normalize conditions, the better we can all be.

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