Editors note: KSAT anchor Myra Arthur hosted four mental health experts on Wednesday, May 26, to discuss mental health and wellness in 2021. You can watch the town hall on demand in the player above.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we’ve just lived through a year like none other before. Stress and anxiety from the pandemic had people finding themselves in emotional situations they’ve never experienced before.
Now we are starting to come out of this pandemic as changed people. Maybe you realized that you have to take better care of yourself. Maybe you have seen or experienced the effects of isolation. Maybe you have a better understanding of depression because of the effects of the pandemic or anxiety because of the fears of the world looking different. No matter your change, it has gotten us to this place in May 2021 where the conversation about mental health is changing – for the good.
If you weren’t aware, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Since it was established in 1949 by Mental Health America, it has been a time to focus on destigmatizing mental health and raising awareness that it affects everyone. We are only one degree away from someone who suffers from a mental health illness or challenge.
While these two initiatives made strides over the past 70 years, it wasn’t until now (thanks to the pandemic) that our society, as a whole, has really started to take notice of the importance of mental wellness. So, the beauty of mental health awareness month this year is that we’re all going through it together.
The world is starting to understand how much mental wellness affects our physical wellness, as well as the holistic need for mental health services and education. We see people being vulnerable and talking about their mental health, telling their stories and sharing what they’ve done for self-care.
And we need to keep this momentum going. We can choose to use this time to either learn and grow from it or we can go back to isolating and not sharing who we authentically really are.
This is a new revolution, and it is very exciting for me. As someone who felt the need to hide behind a facade in order to protect myself and conceal my daily struggles, I know that I will choose to grow and work on being my authentic self as I move forward.
Here are five ways you can keep the mental health conversation going:
- Continue to tell your story – Whether it’s to a friend, colleague you trust, or family member, talking about your challenges opens up dialogue so that others feel comfortable to open up as well. Talking about your challenges is two-fold because it is powerful for you and it helps the other person. Doing so also takes you out of ruminating on your own challenges.
- For parents – Make sure your children are getting mental health education and wellness conversations in their schools. Ask school administrators and counselors what they’re providing in terms of services at the school, and on a district level, to help your children.
- Get involved – Support the mental health organizations that are providing services to the community by volunteering, donating, signing up for an education event, joining a fun run or even sharing their mission. There are many nonprofits providing services, especially in areas that lack resources, so supporting them in any way you can (doesn’t have to be financially) is much appreciated.
- Contact your representative – Write to your city or county officials and explain that you’d like to see more community discussion about the importance of mental wellness. Get involved with being part of the conversation and growing awareness of mental wellness. Can you imagine the work we could accomplish if there was a collective citywide voice advocating for mental health and wellness?
- Continue to educate yourself – There are so many resources available to educate yourself about mental health challenges. It could be something as simple as a resource center such as 1 in 5 Minds, or an advocacy group such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness or a book such as Oprah Winfrey’s new book “What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.” When you continue to read and learn, you are equipped with the knowledge of how to impact change in mental health and wellness in your life and those you love.
Another way you can continue the conversation is by joining KSAT for a mental health town hall discussion. It will be on ksat.com on Wednesday, May 26 at 7 pm. KSAT has made it their mission within the last year to dedicate time, resources and understanding to mental health.
Joining KSAT for the mental health town hall will be:
- Myself, Talli Dolge, CEO of Jewish Family Service of San Antonio
- Evita Morin, CEO of Rise Recovery
- Marian Sokol, CEO of Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas
- Jessica Knudsen, CEO of Clarity Child Guidance Center
During the town hall, we will explore the impacts of mental health and wellness this year and beyond. We’ll also be answering mental health and wellness questions that you can submit ahead of time.
KSAT Community operates in partnership with University Health, Energy Transfer and Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union.
Read more from Talli Dolge: