Island Senior: May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Posted May 17, 2022 at 10:50 am by 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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