If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to get free and confidential support any time of day or night.
For this blog, the WISE Indiana staff are going to take somewhat a different approach. Usually, we and the dedicated team of experts we have the opportunity to work with every day bring you information about the COVID-19 topics that are most impacting Hoosier lives. This week, we want to discuss something that’s very different. We’re here to talk instead about mental health, the resources available to all of us when we need help, and provide us all with some encouraging thoughts for the future.
Mental health is a topic that’s on everyone’s mind. After a year of ups and downs (let’s be honest here, it feels like mostly downs), and limited opportunities to spend time with the loved ones who lift us up, help us stay positive, and have our backs when we need them most – a lot of us are struggling this year. COVID-19 has introduced a lot of uncertainty and fear into our lives, challenging our abilities to adapt and remain resilient. In this report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of mid-July 2020, 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health had been negatively impacted due to the pandemic. We can only assume that this number will continue to grow as we head into our 10th month of the pandemic. This number means more than lost sleep, it means thoughts of suicide, increased drug and alcohol use, job loss, burn out, worsening chronic health conditions, and much more. The pandemic has highlighted both new and existing barriers to accessing the necessary mental health services needed to manage the stress of this past year.
Although you don’t need our permission to be okay right now, we want you to know that it’s okay to not be okay too. We don’t need to be superheroes, supermoms and superdads, employee of the month, and teacher of the year – we just need to make it through. And because of that, we wanted to talk about the resources that are available for anyone who is struggling with their mental health.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free and confidential support life that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. The Lifeline was launched in 2005, and has answered more than 12,000,000 calls. The network currently consists of more than 180-local crisis centers. Crisis centers are local centers that provide mental health services and emotional support for their communities. They provide resources for individuals going through mental health crises, as well as support mental health professionals in the best practices for suicide prevention. Anyone can call and receive confidential support when they’re experiencing a mental health crisis.
Be Well Indiana – Dial 2-1-1.
In July, Indiana FSSA launched the Be Well Crisis Helpline to support Hoosiers during COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. Counselors and resources are available 24/7. The Be Well website also provides mental health and wellness resources, including information about how to care for your physical and emotional self, how to talk to family members, and the opportunity to take a mental health assessment.
The COVID-19 pandemic can prove stressful. The CDC has released guidance on how to cope with stress in a healthy way to make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. They highlight available resources for immediate help, who is especially at risk of stress due to the public health crisis, healthy behaviors to cope with stress, and how to help with social isolation or recovery from COVID-19.
With vaccine distribution in full effect all throughout Indiana, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic. While vaccination doesn’t eliminate the need for hand washing, masks, social distancing, or quarantine it represents hope for a return to normalcy. Although this year has been hard on a lot of people, we’ve learned how resilient we can be, and we’ve become more open to talking about mental health and responding to mental health challenges when we have them. We’ve developed new ways to connect that will help far beyond the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s something for which we can be grateful.
WISE Indiana Staff Contributors: Dr. Amber E. Osterholt & Aaron J. Zych, MPH