May is Mental Health Awareness month, so we wanted to take the opportunity to encourage the use of psychological resources. Mental health is a serious and sensitive topic affecting some of our closest friends and neighbors. Prior to the 2020 pandemic, 47.1 million (19%) U.S. Americans were dealing with a mental health issue according to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report. That’s 1.5 million more people than the previous year. 
From dealing with COVID, illness and social distancing, to working from home and homeschooling, to making ends meet because of job loss, we have all in some way been put through the ringer. So of course, these experiences will affect our mental health.
Fortunately, new ground is being forged to offer mental health services to those who are in need, even if you don’t have health insurance. Here are some mental health resources and information to aid you in your journey.
Immediate danger? Call 911
If you or someone you know is in extreme crisis, call 911 right away or go to a hospital emergency department. You can also utilize the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish.
Here are some signs of a mental health crisis.
- Unbearable emotional turmoil, guilt or shame
- Extreme rage
- Social isolation
- Out-of-control actions
- Abusive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Saving up pills or alcohol
- Increase in addictive actions such as drinking or drugs
What is a mental health disorder?
Rooted in fear and misinterpretations, society has long stigmatized mental illness. Mental health issues are not a person’s fault. But feeling blamed for their situations can cause them to avoid seeking help for years, or maybe at all. Typically, it takes 11 years for a person to seek help once they realize their symptoms.
Mental illness is as much of a medical problem as diabetes, and it should be taken seriously. It can affect changes in emotions, reasoning, physical state and behavior. Problems can range from mild to severe. Mental health problems can happen to anyone, at any age, from celebrities and royalty to factory workers, teachers, and cashiers, to even kids and parents. Anybody could need help to keep their mental health stable.
The following are some classic signs of mental illness.
- Feelings of sadness for more than two weeks
- Attempts to harm yourself in any way
- Overwhelming fear for no rational reason
- Substantial weight loss or gain
- Fears or worries that keep you from normal, daily activities
- Problems with concentration
Free mental health services
Psychological illnesses are common in our society. In fact, one in five U.S. adults experience mental health problems each year. And 7.7 million kids in the U.S., aged six to 17 years old, have dealt with a mental illness. Please do not be ashamed. And seek help if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Look to the following resources for more support.
If you need to express your feelings, there are several places to find a trustworthy ear. You can talk, text, or chat online.
- The Eldercare Locator 1-800-677-1116
- National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
- OK2Talk Helpline & Teen Helpline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357). TTY 1-800-487-4889
- Crisis Text Line Text SIGNS to 741741
Phone & text options
- Disaster Distress Helpline call or text 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish)
- National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4ACHILD (224453) or text 1-800-422-4453
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- Veteran’s Crisis Line 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Press 1 or text 8388255
Online chat option
Several organizations offer free information and guidance.
- American Psychiatry Association
- Mental Health America
- Mental Health Resources
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
Look to these government resources for mental health education and services.
- Practice deep, belly breathing
- Eat healthfully
- Exercise (even a 20 minute walk counts!)
- Take advantage of the sunshine
- Get quality sleep
- Communicate with loved ones
- Avoid excessive alcohol
Call your doctor
If you find it hard to keep stress levels low, battle with depression, or struggle with anxiety (just to name a few) and have a regular primary doctor, you may take the first steps to visit with him or her. You don’t always have to make an appointment.
If you are not in immediate danger, communicate with your health care professional.
- Give them a call and leave a message for the nurse.
- Explain your situation to see what free advice they can give over the phone.
- If they want to see you in person, please take that next step.
Employee Assistance Program
If you’re currently employed, start a conversation with your Human Resources department to find out if they offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP may offer lots of useful benefits including help with mental health issues, such as:
- Parenting resources
- Services for mental health problems
- Tools for coping
You are not alone
Whether you feel open to sharing your feelings, need help understanding why you feel the way you do, or want to help someone close to you who is struggling, there are free mental health resources available to you. Please do not hesitate to contact any of these services.
Staff. (2020, October 20). 2021 State Of Mental Health In America. Retrieved from: https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america ↩︎
Bienenstock, J. DNP, RN-BC. (2018, June 20). How to Recognize a Mental Health Crisis and Intervene. Retrieved from: [https://carrierclinic.org/2018/06/20/how-to-recognize-a-mental-health-crisis-and-intervene/]https://carrierclinic.org/2018/06/20/how-to-recognize-a-mental-health-crisis-and-intervene/(http://) ↩︎
Staff. (2021, March). Mental Health Care Matters. Retrieved from: https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI_MentalHealthCareMatters_2020_FINAL.pdf ↩︎
Parekh, R. M.D., M.P.H. (2018, August). What Is Mental Illness? Retrieved from: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness ↩︎
Staff. (2021, March). Common Warning Signs of Mental Illness. Retrieved from: https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI-Warning-Signs-FINAL.pdf ↩︎