How are you doing right now? No, really, how are you doing? We’re so quick in our society to say, “Great!”, “OK” or “I’m fine.”
Right now many of us are just barely getting by. We’re collectively fatigued by all of what is going on – COVID-19 hovering over our world and affecting so many facets of our lives, wild fires that keep multiplying despite firefighters’ heroic efforts, political turmoil, hurricanes and tropical storms that have outstripped our alphabet’s naming capacity for only the second time ever, and incidences of racial injustice that continues to loom over our country on top of the normal stresses of life. Illness other than COVID-19, death from other causes, accidents, relationship struggles and more have not stopped just because our normal activities have been impacted.
So if your answer is, “This is a really hard time for me” or “I’m not doing very well right now,” you’re not alone. National Depression Screening Day was October 8 but every day is the right day to be screened for mental health issues. On Mental Health America of Licking County’s website (www.mhalc.org/resources/), you’ll find links to MHA National’s screening tools to help identify signs of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as screening tools to help young people and parents determine if a young person’s emotions or behaviors might be signs of a mental health problem.
MHA’s August screening results indicate a marked increase in the number of people who screened moderate-to-severe for depression or anxiety above what was typically seen prior to the pandemic. “’Loneliness and isolation’ were cited by the greatest percent of moderate-to-severe depression (74%) and anxiety (64%) screeners as contributing to mental health problems right now. These percentages have been steady since mid-April.”
It’s not easy to stay upbeat and motivated right now. Maybe you just have the occasional day of feeling down or maybe you’re experiencing these feelings consistently. Either way, we all need to do what we can to manage this COVID funk and take care of ourselves. We’re not going to be able to care for those around us and fulfill our ongoing daily responsibilities if we don’t spend some time on ourselves. If you or someone you care about is having a difficult time, please call your family doctor or a mental health professional to be assessed. At the very least, take an online screen to see if something bubbles up as an issue that can be addressed. And when you’re out in the community, consider that you could be standing next to someone who is trying their best not to fall apart. Whatever you do today, do it with kindness. You never know what someone else is going through.
Printed in the Newark Advocate on October 11, 2020.