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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Feeling off? Here Is How To Know When To Seek #MentalHealthSupport And Where To Turn.


Andrew Bahl

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an increase in anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Resources are available in Topeka and throughout Kansas — here's  where to turn for help.

Feeling out of sorts because of the #COVID-19 pandemic has been a commonplace feeling ever since the #pandemic hit like a ton of bricks last spring. 

From the potential loss of loved ones to changes in work and school to #isolation from friends and family, the past 14 months have been difficult.

Scores of Kansans were already grappling with #mentalhealth. An estimated 8% of the state’s residents suffer from #depression, according to the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services. That comes out to about 232,000 people.

Meanwhile, the Substance Abuse and #MentalHealth Services Administration estimates 4.5% of all Kansans suffer from a serious #mentalhealth condition.

And a state survey of students found Kansas #teenagers are struggling with a years-long, upward trend in #mentalhealthissues and risk of #suicide. The state saw a steeper-than-normal increase in #depression rates for young people last year.

A decrease in the #stigma surrounding #mentalhealth has prompted some folks to seek support when they might not have in the past.

“We are seeing more and more individuals acknowledge that they are struggling with something that just isn’t right and that it’s OK to say, ‘I’m not OK,’ and to get help,” said Sherrie Vaughn, executive director of the Kansas chapter of the #NationalAllianceonMentalIllness.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

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

It can be difficult, however, to know when it might be time to find help.

Karen Smothers, director of clinical operations for Family Service and Guidance Center in Topeka, noted changes in eating, sleeping and other “basic survival” tasks should serve as a sign that something more serious is amiss.

“If they’re feeling very isolated and lacking the motivation to get out, to go to work, to show up, and that’s interfering with their functioning, I would definitely suggest people reach out for help, whether that be virtually or in person,” Smothers said.Get the Afternoon Headlines newsletter in your inbox.

The last year has been especially disruptive, Smothers said, for those who thrive on routine.

That can be particularly true for #children and #teenagers.

Smothers noted #parents should be looking to see if their child doesn’t seem like themselves. 

An extroverted kid who withdraws or an introvert who is putting themselves in risky situations are both signs that they could use additional support.

“You live with them, you know them the best,” Smothers said.

According to #NAMI, symptoms of #depression include the following: Changes in sleep and appetite; lack of concentration and energy loss; a decline in interest in activities; #hopelessness or guilty thoughts; physical aches and pains and suicidal thoughts.

Symptoms of #anxiety include the following: Feelings of apprehension or dread; feeling tense or jumpy; restlessness or irritability; pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath; sweating, tremors and twitches; headaches, fatigue and #insomnia and upset stomach; frequent urination or diarrhea.


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