As we read each day of the toll the pandemic is taking on our health — the mounting numbers of deaths and cases — we might lose sight of the psychological trauma it is also inflicting.
Since May is Mental Health and Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month, consider the plight of those in most danger of falling through the safety net. With the loss of so many jobs, the increase in food insecurity, homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and substance abuse in all forms increasing the psychological toll is inevitable as well.
While it may be easiest to concentrate on the physical aspects of COVID-19, there is no way to separate that from the psychological impact. The impact to our brain and thinking can have a compounding effect that may lead to trauma. The trauma experienced can have longer term implications if not adequately addressed. Such psychological trauma can lead us to feelings of anxiety, depression and even suicide.
You are not alone in these feelings, nor do you need to face this alone. One in five individuals has a mental or behavioral health concern. Your mental health and the mental health of those that you love is vitally important.
We need to stop the stigma related to mental health concerns and give ourselves and others permission to seek treatment, share these issues with others and realize that there is tremendous strength in the vulnerability of seeking help. People in positions of responsibility can help support mental health care or harm it.
Take Sen. Ben Sasse, for example, where in his recent commencement speech to the graduating class at Fremont High School he was joking about mental health and those seeking counseling for their high school experiences. I found his insensitive comments to be in poor taste at best toward the complex challenges that many people in our society are facing and the critical role of psychologists and mental health practitioners in helping others.
Where do we turn for help? In Lincoln, we are fortunate to have many caring and trained mental health providers that work at agencies and in private practice.
I have the good fortune to serve as the executive director of HopeSpoke, where every day we are inspiring healthy futures for children, their families and adults across the life span through comprehensive behavioral and mental health services.
Please reach out to us or other trained, passionate providers of mental and behavioral health services to assist you during this challenging time. Many who never thought they would seek mental health services are finding that they need this now, just as many never thought they would be a teacher to their child or filing for unemployment.
Now more than ever, we need to consider our own mental health and that of those that we care about. Help is a just a call or email away. MyLNK is a free app and an easy place to search for resources or call 211 (funded by the United Way) to find a provider.
There are helplines available as well. Know that there are successful, evidence-based prevention and treatment models available. I wish you good health and hope you will use this as a time to grow, take care of yourself and those who you love.
Read the Local View on the Journal Star’s website.