Over the last three years, our society has gone through many difficult events including a global pandemic, social justice issues and political and economic stresses. As a result, we are now seeing an overwhelming rise in mental health issues.
As a psychiatrist, I see the suffering in our community as we experience an increase in mental health issues in those with diagnosed mental illness, as well as in people with no previous diagnosis.
The pandemic affected all our lives and we are continuing to cope with the aftermath. According to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression increased by 25 percent globally during the first year of the pandemic. For some, the pandemic made us feel isolated and lonely. There was not only fear of contracting the virus and what to do if you were infected, but also the fear of losing a loved one due to the virus. Many people experienced job loss and decreased income; healthcare workers struggled with intense workloads and the pain of seeing illness and death every day; and parents often had to juggle work and childcare at the same time.
Now that the pandemic is easing, it is important for us to take the time we need to grieve and get better. Ways you can take care of yourself include:
- Foster relationships with family and friends. Plan a meet up, call them on the phone or go on a vacation together.
- Engage in any form of self-care that works for you. Treat yourself to a massage or enjoy a night in watching your favorite TV show.
- Take care of your body. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Be mindful of the news and information that you are taking in. In our digital age, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of information that we see on a daily basis. Try to commit to putting your phone away two hours before bedtime.
- Get professional help, if needed. If you’re struggling and it is becoming too much, don’t be afraid to seek help from your provider or a mental health professional.
While we continue to see an increased number of people seeking help for their mental health, I am encouraged by the fact there is an increased awareness around this topic helping to break the stigma of mental illness. Mental health is important to our overall wellbeing and it’s crucial that we take time to nurture our minds. If you are dealing with mental health issues, know that you are not alone and take time to heal.