Mental illness awareness and resiliency
One in five adults in America lives with a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The first full week of October is Mental Illness Awareness Week. It exists to help raise awareness about different mental health conditions and to reduce the stigma.
For Mental Illness Awareness Week, we talked with Jason Youngblood, a licensed counselor from Cigna and 9Health Expert, Dr. Payal Kohli.
How to know if you have a mental illness
There are over 200 classifications for mental health disorders and mental illnesses. So, how do you know when you have a mental health condition?
Youngblood says you know it’s more serious if it interferes with your daily life, “We’ve all been under a lot of stress, it’s normal to have a reactive period of time where you’re feeling blue, anxious, or not settled. But, if it’s interfering with your ability to conduct day to day activities – like taking care of your children, working a full day, or being productive – that’s something you really want to pay attention to.”
Youngblood adds to also look to those who love and care about you. If they are expressing concern for your mental health, pay attention, accept that feedback and support, and get help if needed.
Mental health effects of COVID-19
Kohli explained that studies have shown that a third of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have mental health effects that are thought to be directly related to the virus.
Just being in the hospital can have mental health effects but symptoms of the virus can also affect your mental health, “The virus we know, can invade the central nervous system directly. Then, some of the other effects that the virus imposes on the body such as lack of oxygen or fever – can also lead to mental health changes,” said Kholi.
Some of the treatments for COVID-19 can also cause mental health effects, such as the steroid dexamethasone, effects range from mania to depression.
Another mental health side effect of the pandemic is coronaphobia, which was recently recognized as a formal psychiatric diagnosis.
Coronaphobia can be classified in two ways, the first is the extreme or irrational fear of catching the virus to where it interferes with your daily life. It can also be the irrational fear or worry about being around those who have contracted the virus and recovered from it. It’s making those who’ve had the virus feel even more isolated and stigmatized.
Kohli said the best way to avoid coronaphobia is to learn as much as you can and understand the science behind the virus, “We have learned so much, we know more about how it spreads, how it’s treated, and how to minimize risk.”
What is resiliency?
During the Facebook Live segment, we also discussed a new study from Cigna that shows American resilience is at risk, “Resiliency is a set of coping skills that allow s to rebound from challenges,” explained Youngblood.
Your resilience is measured by an ability to recover from fumbles and mistakes and bounce back. Cigna’s study surveyed over 16,000 people across the US, ranging in age from young kids to older adults, “What it found is young children are the most naturally resilient of any age group,” said Youngblood.
At around middle school age is when resilience starts dropping. Cigna has several tools online to learn about your resiliency. Click or tap here to learn more about the study and how to improve your resilience.
Breaking the stigma
Right now, only four out of every ten people seek treatment for mental illness. Mental health and physical health need to be talked about in the same way.
Mental illness is a very common thing and to break the stigma everyone needs to be more open when talking about it. Realize that if you think you are suffering from a mental illness, you’re not alone.
Youngblood explained that a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is there’s a lot of ways to get help – there’s telehealth, apps, peer coaching, and more. You can still stay anonymous but receive treatment from home.
A place to start is the free, online mental health screenings from 9Health and Cigna. Click or tap here to take screenings for anxiety and depression.
For more resources in Colorado and ways to take care of your mental health, click or tap here to go to our blog post about Mental Health Awareness Month.
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