Mental health in a pandemic: Recognizing the signs of needing help
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Though there is now a vaccination for COVID-19, it doesn’t mean that changes will be seen overnight. For now, fear, anxiety and stress of getting through a difficult year are still affecting many people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger. The CDC has a page breaking down the best ways to cope with stress.
Prentiss Pemberton, a therapist at Counseling Solutions of Alaska, says focusing on what can be controlled instead of what can’t be can be a good way to cope.
“I think some of the best things to do when you’re thinking about self-care is setting a routine for yourself, getting outside and connecting with family and friends, Pemberton says. “And also to really focus on the things you can control in your life because there is so much right now that is out of our control.”
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services defines mental health as “a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity.” Mental health affects many parts of a person’s life and it’s important to understand the signs when an individual may need some help.
“Some of the biggest indicators are changes in sleep patterns,” Pemberton says. “If you’re sleeping too much, sleeping too little, overthinking more than normal or using drugs. Having feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, increased irritability, anger and getting easily frustrated are also signs to get help.”
If you or someone you love is experiencing problems with mental health, there are resources such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness as well as a list of resources provided by the CDC, including the suicide prevention lifeline.
“It’s really important to remember you’re not the only one dealing with this so do not be afraid to reach out and connect with friends,” Pemberton says. “A pastor can be a great person to talk to, there’s some community resources, online resources, you are not alone.”
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