By KRYSTAL NURSE
Less restrictive #COVID-19 measures have prompted more business reopenings, but with them come fear, #anxiety and #stress about living safely in the #pandemic.
Enter #mentalhealthadvocates and nonprofits.
Elizabeth Roithmayr, director of the New Jersey chapter of the #AmericanFoundationforSuicidePrevention (AFSP), said studies are not conclusive regarding #COVID’s effects on individual #mentalhealth, but the nonprofit has nonetheless expanded its reach to those in need.
“One of the chapters has hosted our educational programs virtually, and engaged with a larger audience and educated New Jerseyans in the roles they can play in taking care of theirs and a loved one’s #mentalhealth and educating themselves,” Roithmayr shared.
The foundation has amplified its mission of #suicideprevention for September, #NationalSuicidePreventionAwarenessMonth. Roithmayr emphasized the quarantine and limited activities have paved the way for people to reach out to others in crisis or those who need an attentive ear.
Creative hashtags and virtual town halls highlight the foundation’s commemoration of #SuicidePreventionmonth, as other measures address #youth #suicide and #mentalhealth for minorities and others stressed by job losses or personal grief.
The foundation’s website — AFSP.org/KeepGoing — includes those resources and a calendar of events, one of which is #WorldSuicidePreventionDay (Sept. 10), when interactive sessions, group chats and an awards ceremony will take place. Advocates designated the week leading up to #WorldSuicidePreventionDay as #NationalSuicidePreventionAwarenessWeek.
The #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline — SuicidePreventionLifeline.org — and the Crisis Text Line — CrisisTextLine.org — are both participants in the #mentalhealth initiative, among others issues.
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
Nearly six months since a state public health emergency was declared by Gov. Phil Murphy, Roithmayr noted, AFSP and other #mentalhealth organizations were called on to assist food banks. Volunteers and staffers have also suggested ways for a person to improve his or her #mentalhealth and reach out to loved ones.
March and April were difficult times in New Jersey, as confirmed #COVID cases rose by the thousands and deaths were a daily occurrence. So, AFSP employees took to #socialmedia, advising people to consume #virus news on a measured basis, reach out to loved ones for support and practice self-care.
Roithmayr narrowed self-care to three categories: mind, body and soul.
“Everyone defines it differently, but what can we do to take care of those three things?” she asked rhetorically. “If you think of some ways you would take care of your mind, it could be a daily routine, setting small goals, reading, journaling or developing a project or activity.”
Addressing the body does not just mean exercise or meditation: Consuming a favorite tea or dancing to your favorite song can help, according to Roithmayr. Addressing the soul, she further explained, calls for more personal actions like mustering the courage to ask for help beyond #mentalhealth.
Enriching the soul and mind can result from following #socialmedia sites that promote positive thinking, including positive affirmations, lighthearted and good-natured cartoons and a user’s favorite topic.
“I remember at the beginning of this, it was very frustrating for me to see people out congregating, and I had to unfollow them because it wasn’t good for my soul or my mood,” Roithmayr recalled.
She suggested people take advantage of virtual meetings with friends and family, book clubs, happy hours or reunions to enrich the soul.
The goal of the #suicideprevention month, according to Roithmayr and AFSP, is raise awareness about #suicideprevention and the resources people can access for help.
“During the week (of Sept. 10), we’re looking at multiple things that we are doing,” Roithmayr said. “In the tool kit, we’re going to outline how partners can participate, how to keep action going and then #socialmedia assets and we want people to be aware that #SeptemberisNationalPreventionMonth.
“Through our collective efforts, we want to make a difference and help each other’s lives.”
Editor’s Note: If you, or someone you know, is in crisis, please call the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741. Help is available.