Submitted to The Wilson Times by: Janelle Clevinger
The clock struck midnight and the 2021 calendar opened to its first page, but the same problems followed many of Wilson’s residents from 2020 into the new year — unemployment, underemployment, lack of health insurance, COVID-19 cases seemingly everywhere, quarantine loneliness and isolation and the stress of being an essential worker or an unpaid caregiver, among other issues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at the end of June, 40% of American adults reported they were struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. Symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders had increased considerably during April through June compared with the same period in 2019.
Increased rates of mental health conditions were especially elevated in specific populations, including young adults, minorities, essential workers, unpaid caregivers for adults and those receiving treatment for preexisting psychiatric conditions.
But it’s important to know that it is completely natural to feel stressed, anxious and worried about life during a pandemic or epidemic.
So what can you do for your own mental health today? Make time during your day to unwind and do something you enjoy. Take care of your body — eat healthy; exercise regularly; meditate; stick to your regular sleep routine and get enough sleep; avoid excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances. It’s smart to stay informed, but avoid constant watching, reading or listening to the news. Stay in touch with others — family, friends and faith-based organizations — via phone and social media.
If you think you might need the help of a mental health professional but aren’t certain, take a free, anonymous screening on Mental Health America’s website at https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools. There are several categories of screenings including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, parent, youth and eating disorders. Screenings are also available in Spanish.
If you live in Wilson and are in crisis, call 911 or the Wilson Crisis Center at 252-237-5156. You can also dial 211 (N.C. 211, a United Way of North Carolina program) for referrals to local services.
Janelle Clevinger, Wilson
The writer is executive director of Mental Health America in Wilson County.