I think this year decided to go from January, February, March, and April straight to September because here we are folks. Happy September and welcome to suicide prevention month, today we’re talking about mental health.
I’ve talked about this month before, several times. Through my past posts I’ve offered resources and recognized that there are so many different facets to mental health as a whole—in the same ways that we are all so different in our identities, our mental health can also be affected by these identities or the circumstances we live in… Even while those circumstances change, constantly.
For many of us, our circumstances and life situations have been changing a lot in the past few months and we’ve had to adjust around countless moving parts. While I’ve been saying we should check in on our loved ones and take care of ourselves, it’s also important to recognize that we don’t all have access to the same resources or privileges in order to do those things. Especially right now.
So what can we actually do about our mental health right now?
When it comes to suicide prevention month, it’s often boiled down to “check in on people” or “ask for help when you need it.” Unfortunately, these statements may not acknowledge the need to check back in on ourselves, differences in healthcare access, and even the roles different systems play in impacting our stress and lifestyles. Besides looking into the resources and options in the links I’ve posted above, there are ways to actively both take care of yourselves and your loved ones right now.
Not only are some of these options things you can do on your own, but also a few that offer outreach for organizations willing to help.
Talk about it
Whether you’re looking for a person or a blank page, don’t keep it to yourself. As they say, better out than in, and it’s important to acknowledge whatever is going on for you. If you’ve got a close friend or family that you trust, talk to them and allow them to support you. Doing that isn’t just an act of acknowledging where you’re at, but also an act of self-love by letting yourself be supported. Two birds with one stone, right?
Give yourself some space
Sometimes you need a break from whatever has put you in the headspace you’re finding yourself in. It could be work, family, money, food insecurity… There is always a root cause and unfortunately, not always a way to give yourself a break from it but if you can find a way to create that space, do it. Spend some time away from the house, take a breather from work, don’t be afraid to ask for help with food from orgs like these… And when push comes to shove, maybe do the opposite of asking for space and actually ask for some physical closeness or shared space with people you trust (safely in these covid times, of course). A little oxytocin goes a long way.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): CMS has information on its website about benefits and eligibility for mental health programs and how to enroll.
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): HRSA works to improve access to health care. The HRSA website has information on finding affordable healthcare, including health centers that offer care on a sliding fee scale.
For your loved ones
Be a Reminder
Remind the people you love that, well, you love them. Sometimes we find ourselves at a loss for how little we say this around one another and instead, we say “drive safe” so someone on their way out the door or “have a good day.” Say these things too. And if you ask them how their day is, remind them that they don’t have to always answer “good” or “fine” either. Not if they don’t mean it.
Be Open & Honest
If you’re not sure if a friend needs something needs something or what to do, ask them. Everyone has different responses to stress and even happiness in the same way that people have different levels of comfort when offered help— figure out what your loved ones are comfortable with and work with that. If you’re not sure, be open and honest in that you don’t know. Offer what you do have or what you are willing to give and go from there.
Helping those around you–Black Dog Institute
12 ways to showing someone you love them from afar— Cake Blog
Minds That Think Alike
There might be a point when you’re just looking to have a conversation with people are on the same wavelength as you. I think that’s why social media, especially spaces like Twitter where people can retweet other’s thoughts or and talk with like minds almost instantly, are so popular. It’s important to feel understood by those around you and sometimes those spaces are a bit harder to find. Whether you’re looking for yourself or trying to support someone else, know that there is just about a community for everything these days.
This page offers a list of various outreach sources.
And as so many people have been experiencing loss, this page is a good one for various grief support options.
Though it is suicide prevention month, this month innately ties into mental health overall and the systems that impact that. I think it’s important to talk about what we can actively do for ourselves and for others when there isn’t something like universal healthcare or as many accessible services as there could ideally be. While many of our circumstances may be incredibly different, we are people who have the same basic needs and ultimately, our mental health needs a balance with our emotional and physical health as well.
These are just some of the resources or ways to start the conversation. I know there is more to do and plenty of options when it comes to being active for ourselves and others—if you have things that are already working for you, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to start a conversation with me in the comments or on social media, otherwise, tell me about how any of these techniques go for you in your lives and I’ll see you next week.
Truly, take care and have a good holiday weekend. See you Tuesday.