Welcome to Mental Health Month!

By Katie Towns, Springfield-Greene County Health Director

As cases of COVID-19 remain low in our community, we have a chance to shift focus to other health crises the pandemic overshadowed. As we’ve passed the two-year mark since COVID-19 became a household name, the ongoing mental health crisis has reached drastic thresholds.

According to the World Health Organization, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, global levels of anxiety and depression increased by a staggering 25 percent. Additionally, more than 50 percent of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Women between the ages of 20–24, healthcare workers and adolescents are the largest groups affected, but stress, loneliness and exhaustion have taken their toll on many.

Now more than ever, people need assistance with their mental health.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Springfield-Greene County Health knows our community is struggling. While we always encourage you to speak with your doctor about mental health treatment options, daily actions and self-care can help relieve stress.

This month, Springfield-Greene County Health is focusing on Rediscovering your Mental Health. Each week we will be focusing on a different set of topics related to mental health here on Healthy Ozarks and on our Facebook page.

· Week 1: Back to Basics. As the conversation surrounding mental health conditions becomes mainstream, we’ll help define need-to-know, relevant terms.

· Week 2: Applying Your New Knowledge for Yourself and Others. Now that you know the relevant terms, we will provide resources for you to put this knowledge to good use like how to start a conversation about mental health and participating in an online mental health screening by the Mental Health Association.

· Week 3: Mental Health Disparities. Discrimination and marginalization exacerbate mental health conditions. We will be breaking down some of these impacts, the outcomes they lead to, and some of the related data.

· Week 4: Nutrition & Mental Health. Did you know that what your physical health impacts your mental health? This week we will take a look of the effects of diet and exercise can have on our brain how that impacts mental wellbeing.

· Week 5: Continuing the Conversation. Mental health is a significant focus this month, but we can’t forget about these issues the other eleven months out of the year. We will wrap up Mental Health Month by looking forward and discussing how we can address these challenges in the future.

Springfield-Greene County Health has a list of available mental health resources in the community on our website: health.springfieldmo.gov/mentalhealth. If you are in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255.

We are here with you as we face this crisis.

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