Stomping Out Stigma Around Mental Health

May 13, 2021

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and ensuring your mental health is more important than ever. According to Mental Health America, the 2021 state of Mental Health in America has shown that 9.7% of our youth have severe depression compared to 9.2% last year. The number of people seeking mental health support for anxiety and depression has significantly risen. According to MHA, “from January to September 2020, 315,220 people took the anxiety screen. This was a 93 percent increase over the 2019 total number of anxiety screens.

The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us. Grandparents, parents, children alike. However, there is some light at the end of this very long tunnel. Here is what a few of our Wise Team members have to say about mental health and how kids have been thriving during the pandemic.

Mental Health Awareness

Vanessa Mackall Lal, Resident in Counseling 

Mental Health Awareness Month presents a fantastic opportunity for everyone to become more aware of the significance of a healthy mind. We often remember to eat our veggies, take our vitamins, and crush our workouts while neglecting to pay attention to our own thoughts and feelings and how they impact the choices that we make every day.

Taking the time to acknowledge the connection between our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical health can lead to a wealth of self-awareness and acceptance for ourselves and others. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health, especially in the lives of children. Throughout the pandemic, children have served as admirable examples of courage and resilience, offering a sense of hope to everyone.

Tiffaney Knight, Resident in Counseling 

Although the pandemic limited social interactions for children, it did, however, increase other aspects in their lives. For example, the pandemic has allowed children to tap into their creativity. The alone time has allowed children to take up hobbies they would have never tried during the normal hustle of everyday life.

Children have started using art as an outlet to express their feelings. Expressive art therapy provided a way for children to cope with the heightened emotions the pandemic brought on. Children especially benefit from art therapy in helping to express those feelings they can’t quite verbalize. Along with coping with emotions some other benefits of art therapy are increased self-esteem, boosting self-confidence, and facilitating social interaction. The next time your child is struggling with strong feelings, pull out the art supplies. Allow creativity to do the rest.

Rebecca Staines, School/Licensed Professional Counselor

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Thankfully the stigma around discussing mental health is lessening as more young adults are talking about their own personal struggles. Whether it is on social media or portrayed on a Netflix show, mental health no longer appears to be a topic we dance around. However, with this increased awareness of the importance of mental health also comes a great deal of misinformation out there.

Mental health is defined as a person’s condition with regard to their emotional and psychological well-being.  Whereas a mental illness or mental disorder is defined as a condition or condition(s) that affect mood, thinking, and behavior. While mental health focuses on a person’s mental wellness, a mental disorder or illness involves a set diagnosis. This usually occurs when the mental illness or disorder is impairing a person’s ability to function at school, work, and home. It is important to make this distinction. Because it prevents people from falsely diagnosing themselves. It also highlights that we all need to prioritize our mental wellness. It not only impacts our health but the overall quality of life.

Everyone can benefit from using strategies in counseling to improve themselves. Which does not necessarily mean that that person has a mental disorder. This newfound awareness may also be why some kids have been thriving during the pandemic.

Although kids have had to adjust to virtual learning and a complete change in their home and social lives, kids are more willing to apply counseling strategies into their life routine as a way to take care of their mental health. These strategies may include healthy eating habits, having a consistent bedtime routine, exercise, getting outside, spending time with a pet or family member, and finding ways to express themselves via writing, music, or art.

We each have our own ways of staying mentally healthy. One gift the pandemic gave our kids was the chance to have more time to prioritize activities that improve their overall mental wellness. Let’s hope as adults, we continue to do the same.

Until next time, Be Wise!