There are two things I’m quite familiar with: gift baskets and the mental health rollercoaster. In fact, these worlds intersect because many of our baskets have items aimed to pamper and reduce stress.
I’m an open book when it comes to my experience with clinical depression, so mental health awareness and advocacy is near and dear to my heart. Since I like to indulge my readers with statistics, it’s important to note that millions of people are affected by mental illness each year: one in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness, and 17 percent of youth ages 6 – 17 experience a mental health disorder.
This is serious stuff, and given the last excruciating 14 months, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, may be the most significant one yet.
Oh, What a Year
Not that I want to give 2020 any more attention, since I was happy to let the door hit it on the way out, but bear with me.
According to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans experienced symptoms of depression from April through June of 2020 at a rate four times that of the same time period in 2019. Symptoms of anxiety saw a threefold increase. The American Psychological Association (APA) surveyed providers and found 74% reported that more patients are presenting with anxiety disorders than before COVID.
It sounds dire, I know, but there’s a silver lining here: people are proactively seeking help. That same APA survey revealed that psychologists are receiving more referrals, treating more patients, and experiencing fewer cancellations. Yes, people are hurting, but they’re also taking action to address their struggles like never before.
There are so many resources available to educate you on mental illness and point you in the right direction for treatment. Let’s start here:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- The Peyton Heart Project
If you want to read about my experience with clinical depression (and if you like ape metaphors), check out my blog article that was picked up by HuffPost called Gorilla on Your Back. I also gave a TED Talk-like presentation on the subject at my synagogue that you can view here.
Mental illness is a pandemic that predates COVID-19, and the more we normalize the conversation, the better off we’ll all be. If you ever feel like talking about it, give me a call. I’m not a doctor, but I’m a good listener, and sometimes being heard can get you through the day.