May 7, 2020
Mental Health Awareness month has been observed in May for the past 71 years with the purpose of educating the public to help fight the stigma associated with mental health issues and provide support for those struggling.
From the Mayo Clinic, this article contains several useful self-care tips to deal with anxiety and stress during this time. Additionally, Call4Calm is a free emotional support text line from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Text "TALK" or "HABLAR" to 552020 to receive a call from a mental health professional. You can also connect to a NAMI Chicago Helpline mental health counselor by calling 311 or directly at 833-626-4244.
It is more important than ever to take note of those struggling with mental health conditions, as many are living alone, balancing full-time work with child care (including e-learning!), and worrying about the uncertainty of when our lives will return to a new normal. A few fellow Epsteiners were gracious enough to share some of their personal experiences related to current events:
What has been the most challenging aspect of the stay at home order as related to your mental health?
Professionally, there is some uncertainty that I am learning enough on the job after having only started two weeks before the shutdown. The team is fantastic and remote communications are very good, but it can cause a bit of anxiety being new and being out of the office. As for home life, its also hard to log the hours while sharing household duties with my partner to take care of the increased mess that being home all the time creates - the 4-year-old,and the remote learning for the highschooler. The kids are on screens more than we would like, but there is only so much we can do given the energy it takes to keep track of everything. Also, contrary to what might seem more the case, there is virtually no free time. When not working, it's activities, checking on homework or cleaning. Weekends, too, are more catch up than time off, but by no means am I complaining. Its just that I have noticed the difference. But the challenge is keeping perspective that this a shared experience.
What new coping mechanisms have you been implementing into your routine to maintain a healthy attitude during these unprecedented times?
Trying to get the whole family to walk/run together at least once daily around the block - whopping distance!"
What has been the most challenging aspect of the stay at home order as related to mental health?
Bob very much misses the familiarity of his office; at work he knows just where everything is located. In-person team meetings are missed as well. It has also been depressing going on drives, as it makes it very apparent that most places are closed, most store parking lots are empty.
We are, more than ever, in the same boat dealing with new daily struggles in the workplace. It is important during this time, and always, to treat others with respect and kindness as we often do not know the struggles our colleagues may be facing. Lets join together to end the stigma against mental health in the workplace.