Today is World Mental Health Day, a day designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, improve mental health and wellness, and encourage those struggling to reach out for support.
Mental health has been at the forefront of the public consciousness following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people were isolated from family and friends during lockdowns. Moreover, many were prohibited from working at their jobs or forced to adapt to remote working conditions.
Anxiety, apathy, and depression increased by 25% during the pandemic, according to the WHO. At the same time, people found it more challenging to get in-person treatment to help with the compounding stress and social-distancing guidelines.
Due to the lack of communal support during lockdowns, many turned to drugs, alcohol, excessive screen time, and other self-destructive behaviors. The timing could not have been worse as fentanyl, known for being an extremely potent drug, lethal in minuscule amounts, became a common street drug.
Other drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA are often cut with fentanyl to increase their potency. In 2021, the United States lost 107,000 lives to drug overdose, a 15% increase from 2020.
For its part, Great Britain’s Mental Health Foundation compiled a list of things people can do to help take care of and improve their mental health:
- Get outside and get closer to nature.
- Learn to understand yourself and manage your feelings.
- Talk to someone you trust when you need support.
- Be wary of using drugs and alcohol to cope with your feelings.
- Try to get a handle on your spending and get help if you have problem debts.
- Get more out of your sleep.
- Be kind to others and yourself.
- Keep your body moving.
- Eat healthy food and beverages.
- Be open to new experiences.
- Plan things to you would look forward to.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, help is available. Get immediate support in crisis situations by contacting the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.
Additionally, you can call the National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine at 1-800-950-6264 from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. CDT, or text “HelpLine” to 62640.