Mental Health Week
To the Editor:
The 2020 pandemic has resulted for many as an opportunity to slow down life, to evaluate priorities, and to realize that we all have basic human needs. We have found out how important mental health and wellness is for healthy living, no matter what age we are, as isolation, loneliness, and anxiety affect our lives as we navigate our world.
We have certainly learned to modify and expand our resiliency in the face of this adversity. Because good mental health is something we can all work on, we have to know what that looks like and ways to achieve it. Likewise, we have to realize when our mental health has detrimentally affected our functioning level. Maybe our sleep, appetite, or mood is affected more than not. Perhaps, we are struggling with relationships, being easily offended and irritable, feeling hopeless or helpless, or having thoughts of hurting ourselves or others. We may not be able to maintain a job, have financial problems that snowball into feelings of desperation as we try to keep our household going. We may choose to use substances more regularly, which in turn may result in complications, including legal problems.
When we have more difficulty maintaining our daily living tasks and relationships, we may need to share our struggles with a trusted family member, friend, our pastor, or our physician to gain insight and strength to persevere. If these folks who know us well, recommend that we need to seek care from specially trained professionals, are we receptive enough to take their advice?
When a gradual decline takes place, it’s difficult to believe that we may actually have a mental illness or if we do, we worry we may be “going crazy.” Stress is a natural part of life and mental illness can occur as a byproduct when life is harder to manage. Mental Illness is a common occurrence which affects 1 in 5 Americans during the course of their life. Because of this frequency, we know there are many types of mental illness that can be treated well and others which are more difficult to overcome. It’s essential for us to develop awareness about specific signs and symptoms, education to effectively manage illness, and support to work through it all from people who care about us.
A greater understanding of mental illness will positively impact the stigma associated with getting help. Somehow, we, as a society, have decided that physical health needs requiring medical attention are somehow different and more readily accepted. We don’t hesitate to move quickly to schedule a doctor’s visit for many common bodily ailments. Yet we avoid and even reject the suggestion to “go talk to someone” to aid another bodily organ, (our brain) to learn cognitive skills that can possibly reduce insomnia, explore destructive eating patterns, identify addictive behavior, or address feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or self-harm to help us function better.
For more information about mental illness and resources in our area, please contact NAMI NW IA at 712-357-5428 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For crisis services, please contact 844-345-4569 for assistance. If you believe you could benefit from help, don’t hesitate to call. If you know someone who is struggling, do your best to be part of the solution in reducing stigma and be a hand up to folks with mental illness who need your grace and assistance.
(signed) Ilomae Meling
Treasurer, NAMI NW Iowa