• C McDaniel, LMHP-R, ATR-P

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVD-19) may increase stress and anxiety among people. Fear about the disease can become overwhelming for adults and children. It can be challenging to navigate the different channels of information being spread, however, building certain skills can make you, your family, and your community stronger. Remember, everyone reacts differently to stress depending on the person's background and the community they are in.


1. Take breaks from reading, listening, and/or watching news stories. This includes social media.

2. To be informed, utilize valid and trustworthy sources like the CDC and your state's Department of Health websites.

3. Recognize the things you can control, like having good hygiene.

4. Practice good self-care. Make a list of activities you can do in your home, maintain a good sleep and meal schedule, try an exercise video or yoga video.

5. Follow up with your mental health professional.

6. Reach out to friends and family through video chats and phone calls.

7. Explore a hobby or interest you have been wanting to explore.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million, or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year; and we know this is increasingly an issue with America’s youth.


While there are effective treatments available, many individuals with known mental health issues never seek help from a professional due to stigma, discrimination, a lack of resources, or a combination of all three. Even if you don’t struggle with mental illness, you have the opportunity to inspire others to raise awareness and take part in the sharing of information, tools, and support for mental health issues. You can make a legitimate difference and help change the narrative from negative to one of positive affirmation.


4 Ways You Can Help Raise Mental Health Awareness


Talk About It

The first step in raising awareness for mental health is your willingness to talk to people about it. When you ask someone how his or her day was, ask sincerely. Talk to people about how they are really feeling, rather than passively ask without waiting for a genuine answer. Everyone has something they’re willing to share, and your willingness to talk about your mental health will surely rub off on those around you.


Share Your Story

Just like your willingness to talk about mental health will influence others, so will your willingness to share your story. Your personal mental health journey may not be very easy to talk about, but it is imperative if you want to raise awareness to those in your community. People connect and identify with your story, no matter how personal it may be. Others have had very similar experiences, and hearing your story will motivate others to do the same.


Encourage Others

There are many ways you can encourage others when it comes to mental health. A great first step is to encourage non-judgmental speak. This is one way to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Encourage friends and loved ones to be screened for mental illness and talk to mental health professionals. Encourage people around you to eat healthy meals that will keep their mental health in check.


Learn and Educate

Learn the signs and symptoms of depression. Know what to look for in yourself and people around you, and teach your friends and family the signs as well. Learn what to do if someone talks about or threatens suicide. Memorize the Suicide Prevention Hotline number (1-800-273-TALK), and share it with others. All of these tools will help you know what to do in case of emergency, and spreading the word will only create more advocates for mental health in your community. It’s time to erase the stigma and educate everyone you know.


If you’re ready to seek professional treatment for your mental health condition, SAMHSA’s helpline and web-based behavioral health treatment services locator can help you find information about treatment providers, therapists counselors, support groups, and community resources in your area.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)


April is National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. Children and families thrive when they have access

to safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. Learn how to prevent child abuse and neglect before it

begins with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) resources!

Child Abuse Prevention


Each day more than five children die as a result of abuse or neglect. On average, a child abuse report is made

every 10 seconds for a total of approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports annually. Child help has developed

the following child abuse prevention guidelines to help keep your child, or a child you care for, from becoming a

statistic.


Child Abuse Prevention Guidelines


 Never discipline your child when your anger is out of control.

 Participate in your child’s activities and get to know your child’s friends.

 Never leave your child unattended, especially in the car.

 Teach your child to use their voice to allow them to prevent abuse in their own life.

 Ask questions; for example, when your child tells you he or she doesn’t want to be with someone, this

could be a red flag.

 Listen to them and believe what they say.

 Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior or attitude and inquire into it.

 Teach your child what to do if you and your child become separated while away from home.

 Teach your child the correct names of his/her private body parts.

 Be alert for any talk that reveals premature sexual understanding.

 Pay attention when someone shows greater than normal interest in your child.

 Make certain your child’s school or day care center will release him/her only to you or someone you

officially designate.

To learn more about Child Abuse prevention, call the Child help National Child Abuse Hotline at

1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). The 24/7 hotline is staffed with professional counselors who offer

information about child abuse prevention as well as crisis intervention, literature and referrals to thousands

of emergencies, social service and support resources.