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World Mental Health Day Reminds Us That It’s Okay to Talk About How You’re Feeling

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Mental illness. It’s almost as common as the everyday cold. Yet, it’s considered by many a taboo subject. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness and nearly 40 percent of them don’t seek treatment or help from others. It’s not just an adult issue. Mental health disorders are the most common diseases of childhood. 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75 percent by age 24. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34.

The negative stigma on mental health is a serious issue in today’s society. Raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health are the objectives of World Mental Health Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), and observed on October 10 every year.

World Mental Health Day takes on even greater significance as the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh heavily on our society’s economic, physical and mental wellbeing. According to the WHO, “Fear, worry, and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, and at times when we are faced with uncertainty or the unknown. So it is normal and understandable that people are experiencing fear in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a recent tracking poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF),a non-profit organization that focuses on national health issues, 53 percent of adults in the United States reported in mid-July that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus, significantly higher than the 32 percent reported at the onset of the disease in March. The consequences are many:  difficulty sleeping or eating increases in alcohol consumption or substance use and worsening chronic conditions due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.

“The statistics are sobering,” said Boca Grande Health Clinic Raymond James, D.O., who advises that the first step to addressing – and redressing – the stigma of mental health is a willingness to talk about it openly. “If you know someone who might be struggling, approach the person nicely and ask how they are doing. Provide help by listening, understanding and showing acceptance.”

Mental health plays a major role in people’s ability to maintain good physical health. Your primary care physician is a good starting point for those seeking assistance with their mental health.

There are ways to get help. Use these resources to find help for yourself, a friend, or a family member.

Be sure to get immediate help in a crisis.

  • Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454
    The Lifeline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Lifeline connects callers to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.
  • Crisis Text Line:  Text “HELLO” to 741741
    The Crisis Text hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the U.S. The Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, connecting them with a crisis counselor who can provide support and information.

For the first time ever, the WHO will host a global online advocacy event on mental health on Oct.10. The three-hour event will feature world leaders and celebrities and will be streamed live on major social media channels. Information on how to watch can be found at The Big Event for Mental Health.

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