May is Mental Health Month, sponsored every year by Mental Health America, and the theme this year is Tools 2 Thrive. It’s all about helping people access the tools they need to take care of their mental health, which is even more important this year because the rates of mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety, have increased as we’ve all been living through the Covid-19 pandemic.
As caregivers it’s so important that we acknowledge and take care of our own mental health issues so we can continue providing good care to our loved ones. And as older adults whether we’re caregivers or not, it’s important to take care of ourselves so we can enjoy a higher quality of life as we age. There is less stigma around mental health issues now but it’s still there and it can be hard to reach out for help or to talk about these things but try not to let that stop you if you feel like you need some help. There’s no shame in it.
Here are some tools you can use to thrive with your mental health:
Southwest Mental Health serves our area and you can find hotlines and resources on their website: http://www.sbhc.us/
NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, has a helpful list of mental illness warning signs, along with other great materials on their website: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms and they have phone text and online chat https://www.nami.org/help as well as a local chapter locator so you can join a local support groups: https://www.nami.org/findsupport
If you are or a loved one are dealing with thoughts of self harm or suicide, the national hotline number is 800-273-8255 and there are more resources on their website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Most therapists are doing virtual or phone sessions now so you don’t have to go in person. There are also online therapy places like www.betterhelp.com that you can check out for online or phone sessions.
Medicaid and Medicare (through Part B) also have outpatient mental health benefits that you can use; for questions on those contact our SHIP team at 435-673-3548.
Talk to your doctor about medications that can help; many of these are covered by Medicaid and Medicare as well.
Mental Health America has some great articles on Adapting after Trauma and Stress, Processing Big Changes, and other topics relevant to what we’re all going through lately: https://mhanational.org/processing-big-changes
If you or a loved one are dealing with mental health issues that intersect with being LGBTQIA+, Pride of Southern Utah is a great place to get support and find resources. https://www.prideofsouthernutah.org/
For other resources follow our social media all through May or call us at 435-673-3548.
Heather Cox is a licensed Social Services Worker, Certified Dementia Specialist, Trainer, and RCI REACH Caregiver Coach with a B.S. in Psychology. She's been with AAA-Five County since 2013 and has worked in social services in southwest Utah since 2008.