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Mental Health Monday: Facing similar struggles during the pandemic. So, let's talk!

There are a lot of ways we can relate to each other right now, and we can talk about it with one another.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — During the pandemic, it’s easy to feel isolated and like nobody understands how you’re feeling.

In this week’s Mental Health Monday, our Sydney Stallworth gets some tips from professionals who say it’s important to remember we’re all actually more alike than different in feeling this way. They say, they can see we’ve all been facing some of the same struggles over the past year or so. 

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We spoke with James Desta from Longwood Psychological Center: He says, “I’ve mentioned to you before, three attachment components: security, connection and empowerment. What shows up when those three are unmet is fear, sadness and anger.”

In an interview with WZDX, Lisa Turley, State Director of Alabama Apart Together says, “Every one of us in this state are struggling. This has totally disrupted our normal. We have children who were pulled out of school. Some of the children in our state haven’t returned to school. We have parents who are juggling trying to work, trying to help their kids at home. We have senior citizens who may have been having a very limited social network and now that has even become so much smaller.” 

There are a lot of ways we can relate to each other right now, and we can talk about it with one another.

The following information is provided by the CDC in a study analyzing trends of anxiety, depression and mental health care during the pandemic: 

"During August 2020–February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, and the percentage of those reporting an unmet mental health care need increased from 9.2% to 11.7%. Increases were largest among adults aged 18–29 years and those with less than a high school education."

Don’t feel pressure to say the ‘right’ thing. Just say something to someone you trust and consider seeking help. 

James Desta says, “We don’t speak up to our experiences enough, I think. You’ve had this happen. You’ll have someone tell you something that you’re not sure how to react to. Now you’re like, ‘What is proper? What’s etiquette? What am I supposed to say?’. Sometimes its okay to go ‘Hearing that kind of leaves me dumbfounded because I care but I don’t want to say the wrong thing but I want to make you feel supported. So, I feel stuck, and I wonder if that’s kind of how you feel too?’” 

Of course starting the conversation about mental health care is always a good option. But, for those moments when we’re alone, there are a couple of things we can do to make sure we’re being kind to ourselves. 

Our team also spoke with Monretta Vega, Psychotherapist with Huntsville Psychotherapy and Counseling Services. She says, “Positive self- talk all the way across the board. Those positive affirmations. There’s nothing wrong with putting up a positive sticky note, a positive quote. Because, when you can see it in real time, you can hear it in your head, you start to receive it in your heart and we can rally go into our soul with that. So, we want to enhance just being able to always have some positives around us. I know that negatives can come very quickly. We can always think of negatives. But, being able to reframe-- that’s the key word there-- reframing those negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Then the last thing I would encourage everyone to try is just the mindfulness. Mindfulness is really just about being in the moment… We get into that train of negative thoughts, we’re over thinking. We start thinking about the future and the ‘what ifs’. ‘What if they’re talking about me? What if they don’t like me? What if this looks ugly?’ Be right here! Be right here in the moment. Take a deep breath and focus on where you are, what you’re doing, and appreciate the fact that we get to socialize and interact.” 

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