• Charles R. Butts Jr.

Staying Checked-In

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I believe it's important to honestly assess our emotional well-being. Sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic can become taxing on anyone's mental health. Fortunately, mental illness is a topic that has been gaining traction because directly or indirectly, mental illness affects everyone.

During normal times, according to data furnished by the National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI), almost half of adults, roughly 46.4%, will experience mental illness during their lifetime. In addition, 5% or approximately 43.8 million of adults (18 or older) will experience a mental illness condition in any one year. What's more, of adults in the U.S. with any mental disorder in a one-year period, 14.4% have one disorder, 5.8% have two disorders, and 6% are clinically diagnosed with three or more conditions. Half of all their mental disorders began by age 14, and three-quarters of them by age 24. Sadly, in the U.S., only 41% of people who've had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other related services.

Being sequestered at home on a daily basis can begin to weigh on anyone's psyche. The most important thing we can all do is learn how to relax in order to reduce our stress and anxiety levels. We can do this by: Focusing - which is simply deep breathing for 1-2 minutes while focusing only on your breath. Meditation - which is sitting quietly and breathing deeply for an extended period of time. Imagery - sitting in silence and imagining a relaxing place in your mind. The most important thing to do when your emotions begin to overwhelm you is to talk to someone and express your feelings. If there's no one to directly talk to, you can start a journal.

In addition to trying to maintain a proper diet and exercise, there are free online resources to utilize. Top10.com provides free individual or group therapy sessions. During these times let's stay checked in with ourselves and each other. It's not a sign of weakness to seek professional help--the weakness is being too proud not to.

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