Take Care of Your Mental Health Now: Resources Available

Author: Sarah Barber

"During a time of crisis, such as the Covid pandemic, it is of utmost importance to maintain your emotional well-being."


The past two years have been difficult for many of us. In fact, the United Nations is currently tracking the COVID-19 pandemic and its severe impact on the mental health and well-being of people around the world. Their data shows while many individuals have adapted, others have not been able to pivot so easily.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the pandemic has drastically impacted the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression. CDC numbers show that from August 2020 to February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5 %, and the percentage of those reporting unmet mental health care needs increased from 9.2% to 11.7%.

“Since the pandemic and quarantine, a sense of loneliness, anxiety, fear of the unknown, and isolation have contributed to an increase in both anxiety and depression,” said Linda Peterson, MD, Chief Medical Officer at McLaren Greater Lansing (MGL). “This has led to an increase of self-medication with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. It is a vicious circle that has led to an increase in suicide rates, which we have seen across the country.”

Check-in with your emotional well-being and the emotional well-being of others by evaluating these four red flags of emotional distress:

  • Increase in agitation or sadness
  • Withdrawal from social activities once enjoyed
  • Decline in personal care
  • Increase in hopelessness

Someone may exhibit one or more of the red flags listed above. If you see this change in behavior in someone you love (including yourself), reach out, connect, and offer to help.

“During a time of crisis, such as the Covid pandemic, it is of utmost importance to maintain your emotional well-being,” said Dr. Peterson. “Healthy eating (avoiding sugar, processed foods), maintaining physical activity (especially by going outside for fresh air), getting plenty of rest and sleep, joining an online support group, maintaining connectivity to family, especially the elderly, and always seeking mental health assistance if your mood or anxiety symptoms prevent you from functioning.”

Dr. Peterson says people need to remember that the brain is an organ just like the heart, kidney, or liver.  She noted we need to start talking more about the function of the brain and when the brain is not functioning well, we must figure out why.

“Sometimes depression can be due to medical conditions,” said Dr. Peterson. “As psychiatrists, we are always looking for the why behind these situations and we always evaluate patients medically before we start thinking about a psychiatric diagnosis.”

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports nearly 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness, yet nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental illness never seek treatment.

The good news is that these days, anyone affected by mental illness can find help. It’s always best to contact your primary care provider first for mental health care. For a list of primary care providers accepting new patients at McLaren Greater Lansing, click here.

If you are in crisis, please use one of the following resources:

 National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Text HELLO to 741741 (Free. Available 24 hours. Languages: English and Española.)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline

Call: 1-800-985-5990 (Available 24 hours. Languages: English and Española.)

SMS: Text TalkWithUs to 66746 or SMS (Española): “Hablanos” al 66746

TTY for deaf/hearing loss: 1-800-846-8517

Veterans Crisis Line

Call: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to talk to someone or text a message to 838255 to start a confidential chat (Free. Available 24 hours. Languages: English)

TYY for deaf/hearing loss: 800-799-4889

Dial 911 in an emergency.

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