Mental health awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and with the COVID-19 pandemic this year, it is even more important to take care of our mental health.

For many of us, the pandemic has not only created anxiety for ourselves, but for our families and neighbors too, and has caused worry about the effects on our finances, communities and businesses. Many people, especially our seniors, are feeling isolated due to the safety recommendations of social distancing, which is keeping friends and families apart. For people who may have already been struggling with their mental health, the added stress of COVID-19 may create an increase in mental health symptoms.

This increased stress and anxiety is, in some way, taking a toll on everyone. Here are a few simple steps that can be tried to help better manage and cope with the current challenges we are facing. Tips include: Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media; Take deep breaths and stretch; Eat healthy, well-balanced meals; Exercise regularly; Get plenty of sleep; Avoid alcohol and drugs; Be intentional about finding time to unwind; Connect with others while practicing social distancing

If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, or with stress or anxiety, please reach out to a health professional. You should seek help right away if you have suicidal thoughts, are overwhelmed, or feel you cannot cope. There are people that care and can help. Call the Crisis Line and Referral Service at 218-828-HELP (4357); the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255); or Crisis Text Line: text MN to 741741. For additional resources, please visit https://mn.gov/dhs/crisis/ or https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/get-help/mental-health.jsp.

If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact Brea Hamdorf, Aitkin County Public Health, at 218-927-7256 or brea.hamdorf@co.aitkin.mn.us.

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