According to the CDC, during June of 2020, 40 percent of U.S. adults reported they were struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse. These abnormally high numbers have disproportionately affected younger adults, racial and ethnic minority groups, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers.
"There are many reasons why people don't seek treatment for mental health issues, but one big reason is stigma, which refers to a negative way some people judge those who have a mental health condition," says Dr. Jamie Huysman, psychologist, author and chief compassion officer for WellMed.
"Talking openly about mental health can reduce stigma over time. In addition, sometimes taking care of yourself means not doing it alone, especially given the pandemic and other crises that are affecting our world."
Dr. Huysman offers some important messages to keep top-of-mind:
- Self-care tips include regularly doing what makes you feel good such as yoga or meditation, painting, reading, walking, jogging, whatever hobby or activity comforts you.
- Talk with your doctor, especially if you are unsure about the meaning of your symptoms.
- Connect with others and consider talk therapy. Talk therapy from counselors, clinical social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists can help people deal with feelings and behaviors and suggest ways to cope.
- Educate yourself by accessing online resources like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or PsychHub. The more you know, the more you can dispel misinformation or myths that can increase the stigma around mental illness.
- If someone you know needs help, listen in a non-judgmental way. It's important to genuinely express your concern and avoid blaming, criticizing, minimizing or assuming things about their experience. If you determine that the crisis is an emergency, or the person expresses a desire or plan to hurt themselves, then contact a lifeline center, such as 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to discover resources in your area.