Saturday, October 10 marks World Mental Health Day, and there is no better time to take charge of your emotional wellness.
2020 has been quite the year, full of heartache, uncertainty and loss. And for those who struggled with mental health issues before the pandemic hit, these feelings were intensified by the constant bad news cycle and social isolation.
The World Health Organization will host their first ever global online advocacy event on mental health on October 10. At this event, world leaders, mental health experts and celebrity guests will join WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to tell the world what we can all do to improve our mental health and how we can help make sure that quality mental health care is available to everyone who needs it.
Take some time to take care of yourself, and those around you. Here are a few ways to do so, according to health experts, and those who have struggled themselves:
Could a poem a day keep the doctor away? Psychology Today asked the question back in 2011, exploring poetry as an age-old remedy for mental illness. The author cited a study from the National Association for Poetry Therapy, a group that spotlights a second-century Greek physician who promoted personal growth in his clients through the written word. He was not unique; the healing powers of poetry have been used through the centuries. It has united people in peril and given lovers words that they couldn’t quite come up with themselves, and provided an outlet for tangled emotions. In these uncertain times, here are a few ways you can pursue personal growth through poetry. Read the full article here.
Deanne Revel writes, “Isolation and confinement don’t bode well with mental health. And yet, for the past three years, I’ve managed my own business from home. Granted, I don’t do it every day. I should mention that I’m a travel journalist and social media host. Before COVID-19, I spent half my time on the road and half at home. But now, with travel restrictions and social distancing in place, I’m at home 24/7. And it’s overwhelming. At times, I feel totally trapped in my depression and anxiety in a way I don’t think I ever would at the office. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. Depression manifests differently in each person, but, if you’re overwhelmed too, here are some general practices I’ve found to help me stay inspired and focused while working from home.” Read the full article here.
There is no true barometer—individual or collective—for how people are doing, as the magnitude of what the world is facing far outpaces what we have seen in this century. What is certain is that the automatic response, “I’m fine,” is likely untrue. Adjusting one’s relationship to his or her mental health and making sense of the nonsensical is part of everyone’s job description in 2020.
Here are strategies to open space so people might share more about how they are doing or what they need. Read the full article here.
Sonja Wasden shares her experience with bipolar disorder: “We hid my mental illness for the same reasons many others keep the truth hidden, the stigmas. The shame not only affects the person but the whole family. None of our friends, church members, or co-workers knew I was bipolar. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be discharged from a psychiatric hospital and the next day go to church with my family sitting in a pew looking the part of having a perfect life.” Read the full article here.
We asked mental health experts to share some additional, and perhaps lesser-known, warning signs and risk factors of suicide.
Risk Factors include:
- Bipolar disorder and major depression
- Celebrity suicides
- Drug and alcohol abuse
Warning Signs include:
- Sudden calm or improved mood
- Becoming obsessed with a death
- Giving away possessions
Psychologists explain some of the more elusive emotions you may be feeling amid the coronavirus pandemic and how to handle these feelings. Read the full article here.
Our Founder, Susan B. Noyes, writes about her daughter Emma’s struggles with her own mental health: “My daughter’s life looks practically perfect. No one would ever guess that Emma’s brain tortures her continuously with a looped cacophony of critical, negative, self-loathing thoughts. But, that’s exactly what she has wrestled with since she was 12 and suffered the onset of clinical general anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).” Read the full article here.
Tanya Golash-Boza is a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced. She writes, “The hedonic treadmill is the theory that we all return to our baseline level of happiness, both after wonderful experiences and also after devastating ones.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 is a devastating experience. For many of us, it has been accompanied by additional stressors as well as unimaginable losses. Each person experiences it in their own way.
At some point, however, you may be ready to get back on the hedonic treadmill and find your way back to your baseline level of happiness, or how you felt before the global pandemic altered your life forever.” Read the full article here.
Recent studies show that more and more teens are struggling with mental health. Major depression is on the rise among Americans of all age groups, but the increase is particularly pronounced in teens and young adults.
Here are 5 important steps to positive mental health for teens:
- Get enough sleep
- Implement a routine
- Don’t skimp on down time
- Make time for friends and family
- Model mindfulness
Additional article for teens:
Parents often struggle to discern between moodiness that is typical teenage behavior and what could be a larger mental health issue like depression. Here’s what you need to look out for.
There are many conversations that parents are uncomfortable having with their kids, but talking about suicide is particularly challenging. The topic is an important one, though, so we asked experts for their answers to some common questions parents have about whether to even broach the subject and, if they do decide to, what is the best way to do so.
Resources for Parents
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Youth Suicide Warning Signs
- Mental Health America
- Mental Health First Aid — an in-person training that teaches you how to help people developing a mental illness or in a crisis
Here are local organizations that help those in need:
Be sure that your loved ones know they can text 847HELP to 274637. This text reaches Text-A-Tip, a text crisis hotline that provides complete anonymity and access to local licensed mental health professionals.
NAMI of Greater Chicago, the local affiliate for the National Alliance of Mental Illness, provides information and referrals, as well as support, education, advocacy and active outreach.
- American Psychiatric Association
- Mayo Clinic
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
If you are suicidal or suspect someone else is, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Or, visit online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
More from Better:
- Meet the Poetry Foundation’s Exceptional Young Poetry Fellowship Winners
- ‘The Opposite of Certainty’: A Mother’s Memoir on Battling Breast Cancer As Her Son Fought a Brain Tumor
- The Best Clothes and Accessories to Inspire People to Vote
Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.