(Minnesota) With the COVID-19 Pandemic going on and the stay at home order still being enforced in most states, it can be a time of extreme isolation for people. Not only has the pandemic changed how we live our lives on a day to day basis, for some it could be impacting their Mental Health. That being said…May is Mental Health Awareness Month. May has been Mental Health Awareness month since the middle of the 1900’s.
According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, each year millions of Americans are facing the reality of living with a Mental Illness. The Organizations main goal is to educate people and advocate for those who have mental illness and provide support to their families. This poses the question…why is raising awareness to Mental Health so important and what are some steps we can take as individuals or as a community to support our peers and family members who may be dealing with a Mental Health disorder of their own?
Phillip Godding, a Professor of Psychology at Saint Cloud State University says
“There are a couple of things we need to worry about now, one is that we are in a period of extreme isolation, so people are beginning to feel uncomfortable with that kind of isolation because humans are really meant to be in community, so that can be quite difficult for us”.
Typically, when we think about Mental Illness disorders we think about depression, anxiety, addictions, thought disorders, etc. According to the CDC, Mental Health includes our emotional, psychological and social well being. It tends to affect how we think, feel and act as individuals.
If you suspect a peer or a family member may be dealing with mental illness, there are some things you can do to help them. Godding says
“The best thing you can do is just listen to them, many individuals who are distressed just need someone to listen to them, I would also encourage you to be open to having conversations that are hard, like about suicide…the people who may be in distress right now might feel as if they have nothing to live for, so just the fact that you would say… you know, would you think about hurting yourself? That just tells the person that you are listening and that you care”.
There are plenty of resources out there to utilize to help bring awareness to this particular cause. Saint Cloud State University has CAPS which stands for Counseling and Psychological services. They have a great staff who can work with students or anyone who may be in distress. There is also an emergency family clinic that is on campus. They will take walk ins and they have referrals and ways of interfacing the community. If you would like more information on this topic, it is encouraged to check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness website. they even have their own helpline as well that you can reach and a variety of different resources to check out.