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life + work + parenthood + COMMUNITY

  • Writer's pictureJill Devine

World Mental Health Day

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

If you don't suffer from mental illness, whether mild or severe, count your blessings. I suffer from mild depression and I take medication to keep it under control. When I wasn't taking medication, it was brutal. It's hard to even try and explain how depression affects me because depression is different for everyone. From Bring Change to Mind:

The fact is, a mental illness is a disorder of the brain – your body’s most important organ – and one in four adults experience mental illness in a given year, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD. Like most diseases of the body, mental illness has many causes – from genetics to other biological, environmental and social / cultural factors. And just as with most diseases, mental illnesses are no one’s fault. The unusual behaviors associated with some illnesses are symptoms of the disease – not the cause. But most importantly, mental illnesses are treatable through medication and psychosocial therapies – allowing those who live with them the opportunity to lead full and productive lives.

COVID hasn't helped with mental health struggles. I know I've experienced more dark days in the last few months than I have in my whole life and I'm not alone. The CDC reports:

Here are some tips and advice from the World Health Organization:

  • Keep informed. Listen to advice and recommendations from your national and local authorities. Follow trusted news channels, such as local and national TV and radio, and keep up-to-date with the latest news from @WHO on social media.

  • Have a routine. Keep up with daily routines as far as possible, or make new ones.  

  • Minimize newsfeeds. Try to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Seek the latest information at specific times of the day, once or twice a day if needed. 

  • Social contact is important. If your movements are restricted, keep in regular contact with people close to you by telephone and online channels.

  • Alcohol and drug use. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink alcohol at all. Don’t start drinking alcohol if you have not drunk alcohol before. Avoid using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and social isolation. There is no evidence of any protective effect of drinking alcohol for viral or other infections. In fact, the opposite is true as the harmful use of alcohol is associated with increased risk of infections and worse treatment outcomes. And be aware that alcohol and drug use may prevent you from taking sufficient precautions to protect yourself again infection, such as compliance with hand hygiene.

  • Screen time. Be aware of how much time you spend in front of a screen every day. Make sure that you take regular breaks from on-screen activities.

  • Video games. While video games can be a way to relax, it can be tempting to spend much more time on them than usual when at home for long periods. Be sure to keep the right balance with off-line activities in your daily routine.

  • Social media. Use your social media accounts to promote positive and hopeful stories. Correct misinformation wherever you see it.

  • Help others. If you are able to, offer support to people in your community who may need it, such as helping them with food shopping.

  • Support health workers. Take opportunities online or through your community to thank your country’s health-care workers and all those working to respond to COVID-19. 

Lastly, whether you're battling with mental illness or you know someone who is, please take a listen to these two podcast episodes:

Episode 45: A Widow Talks About Her Husband's Mental Illness. It's a raw and emotional episode that provides perspective to those who don't understand what it's like to suffer from mental illness and it also provides perspective to those who do suffer.

Episode 47: Dealing With Depression and Anxiety, Having Jesus In Your Life, and Seeking The Still. It took a mental breakdown at the age of 37 for Laura Fleetwood to realize she suffered from depression and anxiety. She's on a mission to help other women and young girls who are suffering from mental illness.

If you are suffering, please know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Here are some resources:

*Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) / Crisis Text Line, text TALK to 741741

*NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

*The Missouri Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a great program called “Talks Saves Lives”.

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