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Mental Health Awareness Month: Make your mental health a priority

“The past two years have been challenging for many of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused increased worry, stress and feelings of isolation. Now is the time to prioritize your mental health.”
– Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer Yolanda Graham, M.D.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health wants to highlight the importance of checking in on yourself, and taking stock of how you are feeling and any symptoms you may be experiencing to determine if you need additional support.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in 2020, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. – 45.2 million or 18.3 percent – reported that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health. Similarly, approximately 1 in 5 adolescents ages 12 to 17 in the U.S. – 4.5 million or 18.3 percent – said the pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.”

“We likely will not understand the full impact of the pandemic on mental health and wellness for many years,” said Graham. “Even as vaccination rates rise, restrictions loosen and we return to more ‘normal’ activities, we may have mixed feelings, and experience increased stress and anxiety related to reentering society. Remember, everything you feel is completely valid, and if you are struggling – be sure to seek support.”

Managing stress

While you often cannot control the stressors in your life, like COVID-19, you can choose how to respond to them. NAMI offers the following coping strategies:

  • Accept your needs: Recognize what situations make you feel physically and mentally agitated.
  • Manage your time: Prioritize your activities. Make a day-to-day schedule to ensure you do not feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks.
  • Practice relaxation: Practice deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation to calm yourself.
  • Exercise daily: Schedule time to walk outside, ride a bicycle, go for a swim or take a dance class. Daily exercise can help improve your physical – and mental – health.
  • Set aside time for yourself: Do something that makes you feel good, such as reading a book, seeing a movie or getting a massage.
  • Eat well: Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can help to improve your mood and boost your energy levels.
  • Get enough sleep: Not getting enough sleep can affect your ability to regulate your emotions.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs: Alcohol and drugs can have a negative impact on your mental health. If you are struggling with substance abuse, educate yourself and get help.
  • Talk to someone: Talking to a family member, friend, counselor or support group about the challenges you are facing can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

Devereux’s specialty mental health services

If you are struggling with a mental health challenge, it is important to remember that help is available. At Devereux, we remain committed to providing evidence-based, trauma-focused care to children, adolescents and adults with emotional and behavioral disorders in community and residential treatment settings across the country. We serve diagnoses, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Disruptive behavior disorders 

“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” noted Graham. “We need to take care of ourselves, and offer support and encouragement to loved ones who may be having a tough time.”

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s specialty mental health services.

 

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