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Mental Health Matters

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This month gives us an opportunity to raise awareness of those living with mental health issues and to help reduce the stigma behind them. All of our worlds have been uprooted these past couple of months. Jobs lost, people we know sick, money tight, important plans uprooted. Every single one of us has been affected by COVID-19. For those with diagnosed mental illnesses, anxiety, and depression, this time has not been easy, to say the least. Others who may have never struggled before may now be finding themselves battling mental health issues.

If you suspect that you or someone you know might be suffering with mental health problems, read these warning signs from and encourage them to reach out for help.

• Having low or no energy
• Unexplained aches and pains
• Feeling helpless or hopeless
• Smoking or drinking more than usual
• Feeling confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
• Arguing with family and friends
• Severe mood swings
• Having persistent thoughts or memories you cannot get out of your head
• Inability to perform typical daily tasks
• Pulling away from others
• Eating and sleeping more or less than usual

The Center for Disease Control gives several helpful tips to cope with the added stress this time may be putting on your mental health right. We have expanded the list to give you even more useful strategies to improve your mental health.

1. Take a Break from the News

Keeping informed on the latest world happenings is not a bad thing. However, too much news consumption could leave you feeling on edge, stressed, or helpless. Turn the channel or take a break from reading your favorite news sources.

2. Take Care of Yourself

Avoid using alcohol or smoking to cope. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep. Find joyful ways to move your body, such as going on a walk. Give yourself plenty of nourishment. This might be an apple some days and chocolate chip cookies on others!


3. Make Time to Unwind

It is okay to rest and be unproductive. Binge your favorite Netflix series or get lost in a new book. Do the activities that make your heart happy! Unwinding could also include daily stretching and breathing exercises.

4. Connect with Others

Don’t let loneliness fester. Facetime a friend. Write a letter to a loved one. Drop off baked goods on someone’s porch. Have a socially distant visit outdoors!


5. Limit Social Media Consumption

We all love keeping up with our Facebook friends and businesses. But, if you find yourself feeling anxious after mindlessly scrolling for hours on end, it could be a good idea to set limits on your screen time. Most smartphones have options for this in settings.

The SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline is open 24/7, is free, and confidential. If you or someone you know needs help now, call 1-800-662-4357. The service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other resources.

Do the best you can to take care of yourself and those around you, not just during COVID-19 or Mental Health Awareness Month, but always!

Mental Health Matters - Mt. Vernon, IL Tourism