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  • Sasha Anand

After Four Years and Seven Million Deaths, Society has Finally Started Valuing Mental Health: Let’s Keep the Conversation Going 

By Aadit Garg


Over four years and seven million deaths later, it seems that the world has finally begun to recover from COVID-19. Yet, deep down, people still feel the sting of the pandemic, especially in terms of mental health. The fear, isolation, financial instability and grief wrought by the pandemic have caused sharp surges in issues like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.


For youth in particular, factors like online bullying, a need for peer validation, and structural barriers to mental care resources have made them especially vulnerable to mental health issues. Ironically, however, it took the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic for society to finally understand the importance of mental well-being.


In a phenomenon the Cleveland Clinic has called the “Pandemic Effect,” people are finally discussing and seeking help for their mental health problems. In fact, one survey by the Cleveland Clinic shows a 14% increase in the number of people who believe mental and physical health are equally important. Furthermore, governments are finally devoting resources to address these problems, as shown by initiatives like 988, a federal suicide prevention helpline launched in 2022 to increase access to mental health care. While progress has been made, we must ensure that communities continue to recognize the significance of mental well-being and work to provide youth with greater access to mental health resources.



 


To that end, what are some things we can do to take care of ourselves mentally? From finals to college admissions to climate change, there is no shortage of factors contributing to stress and worse among youth. The following are resources that can provide insight around and help to deal with mental health issues you or someone you know may be facing.


1.      Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is a reliable source for mental health information, offering specialized information for various populations (e.g. children, adolescents, adults, etc.) and covering a range of topics like stress management, treatment, etc.


2.      Medical News Today. Medical News Today offers a plethora of articles and news related to mental health. They cover many mental health conditions, provide treatment options (e.g. types of support, how to access them, digital apps etc.) specialized to different problems and people.


3.      Mental Health America (MHA). MHA is a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting mental health, preventing mental illnesses, and improving the overall well-being of individuals, offering information on various mental health conditions, self-help tools, and ways to find local mental health services.


4.      National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH is a federal agency that conducts research to further the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses, providing information about various topics like anxiety disorders, depression, etc. as well as treatment options/services like running 988.


5.      National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is a grassroots mental health organization aimed at building better lives for Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI includes more than 700 NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates who work in local communities to advance mental health support and awareness. It offers a HelpLine for assistance with mental health issues, online support groups for individuals affected by mental illness, and opportunities to be involved in their mission.


6.      Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). ADAA is a mental health organization focusing specifically on anxiety and depression. They provide information on in-person and virtual support groups nationwide for individuals struggling with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, etc. as well as peer-to-peer online support groups for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).


7.      Loved ones. Talking to people you love/trust about issues you are facing can be an effective method to work through difficulties, especially because these people know and care about you. If someone ever reaches out to you for help, make sure to listen to and understand their emotions and concerns and remind them that you are there to support them. Avoid comparison/judgement of their situation, ask what you can do to help, and keep your commitments.


8.      Therapy. Therapy can be a powerful resource for individuals seeking support and personal growth. It can offer emotional support, self-understanding, stress-management strategies, and problem-solving skills to help maintain one’s mental well-being, and there are many types to fit individuals’ varying needs. Choosing a therapist can involve a number of factors including qualifications/experience, area(s) of specialization, style of therapy and cost/insurance coverage. There are a variety of services that can help connect you with a therapist, including the “Find a Therapist” services of the ADAA, the American Psychiatric Association, GoodTherapy, the Black Mental Health Alliance, etc.


9.  Hotlines. Hotlines can connect you with counselors trained to provide immediate help for mental health emergencies. Hotlines can vary significantly from one to the next: they can be local, state-wide or national, have different timings, cover different types and extents of issues, serve different groups of people, etc. A few examples include 988, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Child Abuse Hotline, the Trans Lifeline, etc. A more comprehensive list can be found here.


Remember, it is a sign of strength, not weakness to ask for help and prioritize your mental health.

 

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