The numbers are staggering. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports nearly 44 million Americans experience a mental health condition every year—that’s about one in five adults. And there is no doubt that everyone in the state of Michigan is living in crisis mode with the outbreak of COVID-19; schools and businesses closed, social distancing and so (so) much time at home. It’s a stressful time. In fact, 36% of Americans say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on their mental health according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Mental health affects everything—it’s our emotional and psychological state of mind impacting how we think, feel and act. But when something feels out of whack, it can pose issues to your day-to-day routine and wellbeing.
Mental illness disorders include anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and many others. The two most common mental health illnesses are depression, affecting more than 16 million Americans, and anxiety, which impacts over 42 million Americans. There is no single cause for mental illness—genetics, environment and lifestyle can all trigger mental illness.
Unlike illnesses of the rest of the body, mental illness has been swept under the rug for many years because it hasn’t been as widely accepted as a serious medical issue.
It’s important to remember that everyone will experience anxiety and sadness at some moment in their life. However, when that anxiety and sadness is overwhelming and occurs regularly, a mental illness may be the cause and you should seek help. You don’t have to live with the symptoms; there are resources available to feel better.
While every mental illness is different, here are seven common signs to help determine if you or a loved one may be suffering:
- Change in feelings or demeanor
When a person is suffering from a mental illness, they may experience increased feelings of worry, panic, sadness or hopelessness.
- Loss of interest
They may start avoiding friends, family and activities that used to once bring pleasure.
- Change in sleeping habits
Sleeping patterns may change to sleeping too much or too little, especially when compared to previous sleep routines.
- Low energy
This can manifest itself as either sleeping too much, or having the inability to carry out everyday activities and tasks such as work or even self-care.
- Difficulty interacting
Many times people with a mental illness will find it hard to understand or relate to others. This may also present as extreme irritability with others or themselves.
- Appetite or weight changes
Dietary changes, whether it is excessive eating or little to no eating, is a large indicator of depression.
- Uncontrollable emotions
A distinct, rapid mood swing from sadness to happiness, or similar emotions on opposite ends of the spectrum, may be an indicator of mental health struggles.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? The best thing to do is to ask for help. A family doctor or mental health clinic can provide you with great options to help you get started. By getting help, you can take control of your symptoms and in many cases, recover completely.
Behavioral help resources
Here are some options if you’ve decided you could use some help:
- Your health insurance company. Check with your health plan to see which resources are available. For example, Priority Health provides members with information like what kind of help is available, what your plan will cover and how to find counselors or behavioral health care providers to meet your needs. An on-staff behavioral health team is available to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call the number on the back of your member ID card (your call is completely confidential) or log into your online account. Priority Health has also partnered with a digital health specialist to offer free access to mental wellness resources specifically focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here.
- Disaster distress helpline. A 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
- Online or virtual care. Try an online therapy session through a website such as 7 Cups, an online emotional health service provider. The app enables users to select listeners based on their preferences/experiences and anonymously chat via the platform 24/7. In times of emotional turmoil or stress, it is highly beneficial to talk to someone and this app offers a safe space to do that. Headspace is another free mental health resource for Michiganders during the COVID-19 pandemic offering meditations, at-home workouts and other help for stress and anxiety.
- Community resources. For Michiganders in need of free or low-cost mental health, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has a county map of community mental health service programs.
Whatever tools you use for help, take the time to make your mental health a priority. Your mind and health is certainly worth it.