MAY: Mental Health Awareness Month

What?

Every year millions of individuals face the reality of living with a metal health diagnosis. The goal for any awareness month is to raise funding and create awareness. A supplemental goal however is to work to combat the stigma, provide support to communities, educate the public and advocate for policy change that supports the lives of individuals living with a mental illness and their families! I feel so strongly about this movement as I see daily the community we are fostering among individuals with a mental health diagnosis however so much work is still to be done.

NAMI has amazing initiatives and local resources for individuals no matter your location. NAMI has so many powerful initiatives at this time including Strength Over Silence, a perspective on mental health around African American and Latin communities. Check out NAMI’s website for stories of hope, community and recovery. The “You are Not Alone” campaign features lived experience of individuals living with a mental illness! This campaign produces inspiration and hope for others while also educating the broader public. In these uncertain times, the NAMI community is stronger than ever, reminding us that you are not alone.

Check-In:

Now more than ever before it is essential to come together and show the world that no one should ever feel alone. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak here in Massachusetts, our lives have been altered drastically, impacting every aspect of our daily lives. There are so many impacts this new reality has had, we are bored and sometimes scared and yet we have this undeniable gratitude. Today I want to focus primarily on us as individuals and our needs. We have never lived a life where we are isolated from friends, loved ones and the general community. I’d like to take a minute to emphasize a check-in and what this can mean. Checking-in is essential to do and know that it’s okay to focus on yourself, you are your own number one priority.

Have you taken a moment to check-in with yourself? Assess what you need in this moment, today, or this week. Think about what can keep you healthy, both physically and mentally. Know that we are all so individualized. Self-care is so important; I encourage us all as we continue in this endeavor to ask ourselves what do we actually need? Think of activities that promote your self-image and capacity to practice self-love while combatting what you’re feeling whether it be stress, anxiety or fear. Is it walking, reading, exercise, meditation, music, journaling, art? Is time with another important or is time alone important? Ask yourself how your sleep is, are you eating enough? Every day we must carve out time, even if it’s just a few minutes for ourselves and really taking care of our own needs. Reach out to friends or family, find support and community. Find little ways to impact your day in a positive way. Access resources online to see new ways to fill your time and connect with others. Get creative and know that self-care looks different for different people and that self-care needs can change in a moment. However, I want to emphasize that maybe these things aren’t enough, and that is OKAY. Please read below on how to further your support during these times or at any period of need.

Unfortunately, at this time, not everyone has the capacity for some of these supports or they simply aren’t enough. A huge reason to check-in with ourselves as we continue in this reality is that sometimes we need a little bit more and it’s important to acknowledge and access, you deserve it. You deserve to feel safe and healthy and so here are some ways to access supports. Every state currently has a 211 line for resources, outreach this line for resources you may need they can connect you to mental health supports and clinicians through this line. Local hospitals and your health insurance provider are also resources you can use no matter your location to find a connection to a mental health professional to support you in these moments. To get a little more detailed for local folks here are some more significant resources to access. Unfortunately, suicide risk increases as well as risk for domestic violence and sexual assault during this time remaining in quarantine, please note these resources for yourself, a loved one, a friend or a neighbor who may be in need

National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-273-8255

You can call 1-877-382-1609 and enter your zip code for the best resource in your area here in Massachusetts. Some crisis intervention services are listed below:

  • Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST) 1-800-981-4357
  • Community Counseling of Bristol County 1-508-580-0801(South East of Boston)
  • Aspire Health Alliance 1-800-528-4890 (Quincy Area)
  • Lahey Health Behavioral Services 1-866-523-1216 (North of Boston)
  • Riverside Community Care 1-800-294-4665 (Milford Area)
  • Riverside Community Care 1-800-529-4665 (South West of Boston)
  • Riverside Community Care 1-877-750-3127 (Southbridge Area)

Survivors of Domestic Violence or sexual assault can access resources through 211 or call SafeLink at 1-877-785-2020 for connection to rape crisis centers or local community programs.

Always call 911when in an unsafe situation.

Know that you are deserving of safety, hope and support.

There are resources available and you are never alone.

You are enough and you are deserving.

These topics can be challenging to hear about, challenging to talk about and challenging to voice when we need these services. I want others to be aware that when it is hard to talk about, it is necessary to discuss.

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