Minding our Mental Health

In these unprecedented times minding one’s mental health can be forgotten as survival instincts take over and we go about our days trying to eat, sleep, stay connected, work, raise our kids, pay our bills, and care for ourselves and families.

But now more than ever the need to acute attention to our individual mental health is paramount to our individual and collective well-being. In order to heal our nation we must heal ourselves, and to heal ourselves we may need individual and collective help.

A growing and spreading pandemic that has claimed close to 150,000 American lives. Record breaking 40 million unemployed. Federal SS-style secret police invading Portland and refusing the Governor’s, Senator’s and Mayor’s demand to leave, and a promise to send troops to other “blue” cities to stoke the flames of violence and racism.

The trauma of Breonna Taylor’s murderers remaining free. The continuing trauma of George Floyd’s death and the ongoing deaths of hundreds more every month by brutalized and killed by police.

Ongoing protests across the country by Black folk and allies who support Black Lives Matter and want and demand solutions to century’s old systemic racism.

School children and college-age young adults are out of school and most will return in the Fall to online learning in the largest public education change – for students, teachers, administrators – in United States history. An uncharted path that is a forced social experiment the country must successfully navigate.

Tens of millions of essential workers and millions more “forced essential workers” all desperately trying to save lives or placate demanding middle and upper middle class fellow citizens who are trying to maintain their own sense of normalcy.

Daily lies from every person associated with the White House, and inept reporting and accountability by most major news organizations.

A Senate ruled by long-time racist and demagogue Mitch McConnell, and a compromised and bought and paid for Supreme Court.

Food deserts. Growing homelessness.

Stress. Uncertainty. Confusion. Lies. Disappointment. Insomnia. Anxiety. Depression.

And social isolation that is anathema to our evolutionary requirement for consistent social interaction.

And finally, an upcoming election that is a referendum on what America sees as its true nature and true future.

Mental health is not a “sexy” topic and in some communities and families mental health is frowned upon as a weakness or personal failure.

There are plenty of at-home options to manage one’s mental health:

  • Reading
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Regular sleep
  • Art (singing, crafts, writing, cooking/baking)
  • Signing out of social media
  • And calls and Zoom events with friends and loved ones

To name a few.

You may not be able to do any of those suggestions depending on your family, kids, work schedule, or just the will to do so – that is okay! You are not a failure for struggling to find your place of well-being during a global pandemic and societal upheaving. Everyone is trying to adjust and adapt the best way that makes sense for them.

Below are a few resources for additional help should you need assistance beyond what you can do on your own at home. Counselcing, therapy, self-help groups, and support groups abound and many have online avenues that can help you find your center.

You shouldn’t feel alone or helpless. But if you do it is good to remember and recognize that what you are feeling isn’t unusual or untreatable.

Though many of us are in social isolation we have additional resources that can help in ways that family and friends may not be able to. Do be afraid to say out loud that you need help, you need someone to talk to, that you are overwhelmed.

Expressing our needs out loud is a key step to finding what we need, and also for our loved ones to know how we are feeling. They can’t help if they don’t know.

And they may not help if they do – that is why knowing where our resources are can make all the difference in the world.

Special shout out to Black people: Being strong doesn’t mean hiding pain. It is a show of strength to acknowledge help is needed. Don’t be silent about your pain and don’t be silent about asking for help.

Resources:

https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/Black-African-American

https://adaa.org/finding-help/blackcommunitymentalhealth

https://www.self.com/story/black-mental-health-resources – also includes list of people to follow across social media who focus on mental health.

https://www.who.int/mental_health/en/

https://childrensnational.org/departments/center-for-neuroscience-and-behavioral-medicine/programs-and-services/mental-health

https://www.mentalhelp.net/anxiety/hotline/

© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved.

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3 Thoughts

  1. There are so ways this article resonated with me personally. The traumas listed are spot on and the fact we need to address our traumas is a warranted call to action. We have to view taking care of our mental health as necessary and that it is not indicative of a hidden flaw. We are dealing with generational grief and struggle that is unique to our culture. Thank you for this timely and insightful article!

    Liked by 1 person

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