Imagine waking up each morning with little energy or ability to focus on basic daily tasks. Weeks pass and the limitations grow; for getting out of bed, showering, making meals and for leaving your home. Everything becomes a chore because you are battling your mind and emotional health. This is the life experience for Maria. Maria is gripped by fear and sadness, overwhelmed by life circumstances and has limited energy to find a healthy focus for daily work duties, friends and responsibilities to her community. As Maria experiences this severe mental state, her development through work, life and community leave drastic effects to her overall wellbeing. Similar to concerning physical symptoms we present to a doctor, awareness and the use of tools for mental health symptoms is non-negotiable; and particularly in the COVID-19 virus environment. Maria has several mental health concerns mentioned above and should seek professional support to address immediate and long-term needs.
Mental Health support professionally addresses concerning symptoms and educates individuals; while providing healthy and effective tools that empower them with relevant resources. Professional and appropriate support entails: consultation with a psychiatrist and/or physician, professional counseling, local support resources and programs that educate on warning signs and ways to address mental health symptoms, educational groups that address mental health conditions and healthy coping skills. Mental health support guides individuals to identify the parts of life and environment that threaten safety, stability and ability to keep healthy relationships. As unhealthy elements are identified, individuals learn healthy tools and ways to implement them into daily life.
For example, many of us are learning to manage grief and the loss of a number of things in the virus environment. We may need to go through each of the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, acceptance) and verbally acknowledge our needs within each stage, among a professional or those we trust. It is important to name our needs, in order to feel the need and heal from it. Be careful not to judge the way others respond in grief. As we name feelings, we learn to move forward and explore the meaning in this time of grief. The meaning is not in what we have lost but in what we chose to do afterwards. Looking for ways to be thankful and recognize the good that occurs in a day, is a valuable tool. Practice naming the meaningful moments. Our focus becomes not on our loss, but of the meaningful times and the life ahead of us.
To prevent the spread of a contagion, we have learned to use social distancing and maintain healthy hygiene practices in the virus environment. Similarly, and in order to be preventative with mental health symptoms, practice thoughtful steps. Use healthy practices and take your pulse, establishing personal needs and then calmly assess what the need is. Prevent mental health issues by distancing self from people who “sneeze worries” and “spread negativity,” then implement learned healthy tools for successful life outcomes. Preventative tools help us avoid mental health issues and protect against negative health outcome and problem behaviors.
In continued prevention measures, notice things that put your mental health at risk. Maintain healthy habits and supports needed, for life goals. Develop social and emotional rhythms to use in strong relationships with families/friends. Take advantage of counselors and/or support programs, then set regular visits with them.