Island Senior: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted May 17, 2022 at 10:50 am by

Photo credit: Peggy Sue McRae

The advice colum­nist known as Dear Abby once said, “These days it takes nerves of steel just to be neu­rot­ic” — and she said that in the six­ties. In today’s world there is plen­ty to fray our weary nerves. We have all the usu­al caus­es for men­tal dis­tress: anx­i­ety, iso­la­tion, loss, health issues, all mag­ni­fied by the ongo­ing pandemic.

Car­ing for our men­tal health has unfor­tu­nate­ly car­ried a stig­ma for a long time. Peo­ple suf­fer unnec­es­sar­i­ly because they are reluc­tant to ask for help. Espe­cial­ly if you have sui­ci­dal thoughts do not wait to seek help. Call 911 or the Nation­al Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Life­line at 1–800-273-TALK (8255) or go direct­ly to the emer­gency room.

If you are not suf­fer­ing acute­ly but your sparkle for life has dimmed leav­ing you in low spir­its there are a five sug­ges­tions from Men­tal Health Ire­land that are free, easy, small improve­ments that can sig­nif­i­cant­ly make a dif­fer­ence in your well being.

  1. Con­nect — Espe­cial­ly if COVID has you iso­lat­ed it is impor­tant to check in with loved ones now and then. Even a brief friend­ly chat with a neigh­bor or co-work­er can lift your mood. Nur­tur­ing rela­tion­ships make us feel hap­pi­er and more secure. Find cama­raderie with oth­ers who share com­mon inter­ests. You may enjoy try­ing group activ­i­ties at the Mullis Cen­ter includ­ing a paint­ing group, quilt­ing group, games and bingo.
  2. Be active — Find ways to move that you enjoy and include some form of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty in your day. If get­ting active is a chal­lenge for you the Mullis Cen­ter has two exer­cise class­es avail­able via Zoom — chair yoga, and bal­ance and stretch. Call Anna at 360–370-7520 for details.
  3. Take notice — Take note of the world around you. We live on a beau­ti­ful island. Find a place to lis­ten to the waves. Some­thing about that steady, sooth­ing rhythm seems to reg­u­late what may be out of sorts with us. Pay atten­tion to the present moment with each breath.
  4. Keep learn­ing — This can be as sim­ple as try­ing a new recipe or tak­ing an inter­est in a new hob­by. Class­es are avail­able online in almost any top­ic imag­in­able. Many of them are free. Maybe its time to pick up a musi­cal instru­ment, one you may have neglect­ed for a while or some­thing com­plete­ly new.
  5. Give — Gen­eros­i­ty feels good. It can take the form of vol­un­teer­ing, help­ing out a friend, or even decid­ing to say some­thing kind to peo­ple you encounter. You nev­er know how much your kind­ness and gen­eros­i­ty will be appre­ci­at­ed. Link­ing your own hap­pi­ness and well being to the wider com­mu­ni­ty cre­ates a bond with those around you.

Don’t hes­i­tate to ask for help when you need it. Here are a few avail­able resources.

  • 24-Hour Cri­sis Line (800–584-3578) is a 24-hour/365 day per year resource for any­one expe­ri­enc­ing a self-defined men­tal health cri­sis. Friends or fam­i­ly of some­one in cri­sis may also call.
  • Com­pass Health — Men­tal health, chem­i­cal depen­den­cy and psy­chi­atric ser­vices; offers coun­sel­ing ser­vices for seniors who are cov­ered by Medicaid/Provider One insur­ance; 360–378-2669.
  • SAFE San Juans — Domes­tic violence/sexual assault ser­vices. 24-hour cri­sis line: 360–378-2345.
  • The Com­mu­ni­ty Well­ness Pro­gram pro­vides low-cost access to men­tal health­care for approved, unin­sured or under-insured San Juan Coun­ty res­i­dents. Pro­gram par­tic­i­pants can receive up to 18 coun­sel­ing ses­sions for a slid­ing scale copay of $5–$30 per ses­sion. To learn more, con­tact the Joyce L. Sobel Fam­i­ly Resource Cen­ter at 360–378-5246.

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Categories: Around Here, Island Senior

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