Executive Director Reflections: Mental Health Awareness Month

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, which encourages us to give time and attention to our mental health including things such as seeking professional help and support groups, as well as self-care like meditation, nutrition, exercise, sleep, and anything else that helps us feel well emotionally and psychologically. Staying connected to others is different now, but it is another essential component to our overall well-being. In this strange, stressful, and challenging time of isolation and physical distancing, self-care and mental health awareness are extremely important.

Many of us don’t prioritize our mental health in the best of times, or we make time sporadically for this aspect of our wellness. As the pandemic has evolved, there is much to think about in terms of what we focus on, what gets our attention, and what are we willing to sacrifice or not. For each of us, the questions and the answers are different, requiring us to make a conscious effort to pause, consider, try, think, pivot, and try again.

If the things you used to do and what you’re trying now isn’t working, that makes sense as so much has changed. I urge you to seek small wins and opportunities where you can be flexible and reach out for support from a friend or family member, a mental health professional, or a Helpline like ours. This time is truly unprecedented, and we can all benefit from some really conscientious mental health awareness, patience with ourselves, and perhaps some additional support too.

What is happening now and what the coming months will bring can feel quite overwhelming. For many, there are very real financial burdens resulting from unemployment, disrupted careers, and impacted businesses. The uncertainty and stress associated with the pandemic, along with increased drug or alcohol misuse for some, will take its toll as well. Stressors like these can lead to thoughts of suicide, putting many more people at risk. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or feels scared, unsafe, or depressed, you are not alone. Call or text Samaritans any time at (877) 870-4673.

The Samaritans family is comprised of staff, volunteers, board and council members, donors, supporters, and people who use our services. We are taking care of ourselves and each other because if we don’t, we can’t help others and that is the heart of what we do: we are deeply dedicated to the work of helping people in their most difficult times. I urge you to practice self-care, especially now, but always too. Perhaps that will be one of the positive outcomes of this difficult time.

My best,

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Kathleen C. Marchi
Executive Director