The coronavirus pandemic led to increased diagnoses of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. However, with so many people being open about their struggles during the lockdowns, one positive outcome has been an increased focus on mental health, which has also helped to de-stigmatize the issue.
According to data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 21% of adults are experiencing at least one mental illness. That's roughly 50 million people. 55% of adults with a mental illness have not received any treatment, and a little more than 5% (5.44%) of adults experience severe mental illness. This reflects the impact of the pandemic that started in 2020. Also, as of 2020, suicide is the second leading cause of death for U.S. children ages 10 to 14.
What can people do to support their mental health and of their loved ones? Here are a few tips for helping us take care of our mental wellbeing just like we do when it comes to our physical wellbeing.
Tips for Self-care
- Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. Small amounts of exercise add up, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time.
- Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.
- Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.
- Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy such as journaling.
- Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
- Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind.
- Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
- Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.
Tips for Helping Others
If you see something. say something. While discussing mental health and treatment has become less stigmatized, some may still be hesitant to pry. However, it’s important that we watch out for each other, because the pandemic added to the stress we already had — and that didn’t just disappear. It’s important to know that it’s okay to not be okay.
Psychology Today offers the following seven questions that can help you start a conversation:
- How have you been? ...
- How's your stress level lately? ...
- Have you been eating and sleeping? ...
- 4. Is there anything you want to talk about? ...
- Would you be willing to talk to someone? ...
- What can I do for you? ...
- When is the best time to check in with you again?
Telehealth for Mental Health
For QualChoice members, Mental Health and Substance Abuse services are also available by phone or video. QualChoice Telehealth gives you access to in-network healthcare providers 24 hours a day. Use it right when you need it — or schedule an appointment ahead of time.
- Any care that can be delivered this way is covered.
- Any type of connection technology may be used*.
*Providers should follow state and federal guidelines regarding performance of telehealth services including permitted modalities.