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Mental Health Awareness Month: Coping with uncertainty, building resiliency

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there has never been a more important time to break the stigma of mental illness and encourage those who are suffering to get the help they need.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of many individuals, especially young adults.

A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Census Bureau found that between August 2020 and February 2021, the number of adults who experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression during the past seven days increased from 36.4 percent to 41.5 percent. The number of adults who reported they needed, but did not receive, mental health counseling in the past four weeks increased from 9.2 percent to 11.7 percent. Note: Increases were largest among adults between the ages of 18 and 29.

In addition, a June 2020 survey by the CDC found that 63 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, with 25 percent reporting increased substance use to deal with that stress and 25 percent saying they had seriously considered suicide.

“COVID-19 has taken an emotional and mental toll on many of us,” said Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer Yolanda Graham, M.D. “Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, numbness or frustration are all natural responses. If you are struggling to cope with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic – help is available. Learning to deal with stress in a healthy way will help you improve your mental health and increase your resilience.”

Focusing on self-care

If you are experiencing increased stress, anxiety, grief or worry due to COVID-19, the CDC offers the following tips to care for yourself one small way each day.

  • Take breaks to unwind through yoga, music, gardening or new hobbies
  • Find new ways to safely connect with family and friends, get support and share feelings
  • Take care of your body and get moving to lessen fatigue, anxiety or sadness
  • Treat yourself to healthy foods and get enough sleep

Promoting mental well-being

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, Mental Health America is providing a toolkit that includes printable handouts on the topics below to help individuals manage their emotions more effectively:

  • Adapting after trauma and stress
  • Dealing with anger and frustration
  • Getting out of thinking traps
  • Processing big changes
  • Taking time for yourself
  • Radical acceptance

Access Mental Health America’s 2021 toolkit for more information and coping strategies.

Devereux’s specialty mental health services

For those facing a mental health challenge, it is important to remember that you are not alone. For more than a century, Devereux has remained at the forefront of delivering exceptional services and supports to individuals and families in need. The organization is 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. Diagnoses served include:

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

“Our mental health is an essential part of our overall health and well-being,” Graham explained. “If you are struggling, talk with a family member or friend about your concerns or how you are feeling, and call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities.”

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


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