By Celia Spacone, Jessica C. Pirro and Missy Stolfi
After an unsettling start, we now know what steps to take to help protect ourselves from the #coronavirus: keep physical distance, wear a mask, wash hands. There is another health crisis lurking; are you ready to help?
May is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth and that is a good time to protect something as equally valuable and lifesaving – caring for our #mentalhealth. The traumatic impact of #Covid-19, #stress, #anxiety and even #depression has increased. Some leaders have responded to the #pandemic quarantine with a warning that the social and economic costs will lead to an increase in death by #suicide.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
Not so fast.
We know that #socialisolation, #loneliness and economic worries are risk factors for an increase in #suicide, but we also know that there are “masks” we can use to protect ourselves.
#Suicide is a complex health issue, but like #Covid-19 there are ways to reduce risk and prevent it. There are measures we can take to “protect” ourselves. Take control of your life to feel better. Limit your access to media, put some structure back into your day and keep a healthy diet. Sleep regular hours. Keep any potentially lethal medications and all firearms locked up.
Helping others decreases #loneliness and boosts your own #mentalhealth. Check in with people who have high risk for #Covid-19, but also check in on those who may be struggling with #mentalhealthissues.
As we monitor symptoms of #Covid (fever, cough, fatigue), there are warning signs that someone may be at increased risk for #suicide. Look for troubling statements such as worries about being a burden or “you’d be better off without me,” sleep disturbance, increase or decrease in appetite, failure to find pleasure in activities that were previously pleasurable and not taking care of oneself as before.
Other warning signs may include: online searches for methods to take one’s life, and increase in the use of alcohol or drugs. Remember, alcohol is a depressant and makes #depression worse.
Many of the typical warning signs overlap with what is happening to all of us during this crisis. It is better to be safe. Ask if someone is OK. Reach out to the many #mentalhealthresources that are there for us.
#Mentalhealthservices are still open to serve – most providers are offering telehealth. Those who were shy about going into an office for #mentalhealthservices may be more open to this option. There are new text lines, warm lines you can call just to talk. There is less #stigma now about getting #mentalhealth help, because so many are struggling.
As a community, we can become stronger if we use this time to reach out and support those who struggle with #isolation and #loneliness. Hope is not canceled. #Mentalhealth matters.
Visit https://www2.erie.gov/mentalhealth, Crisis Services hotline can be reached at 834-3131; NYS Emotional Support Helpline, seven days a week from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. at 1-844-863-9314.
Celia Spacone is coordinator of Erie County #SuicidePreventionCoalition; Jessica C. Pirro is CEO of Crisis Services; Missy Stolfi is area director, Western & Central New York Chapters, #AmericanFoundationforSuicidePrevention.