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Reframing mental health now and for the future

Mirelle Zamudio

As the COVID-19 pandemic made its way across the globe, a shapeless and silent pandemic, borne of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty also began to take hold. While taking care of oneself has been focused on our physical health and hygiene, it has left the mental health and emotional states for many, in limbo and for others, pushed them into crisis.

May is Mental Health Awareness month and reframing the conversations of what mental health is and the stigma that is carried with mental disorders and illnesses, will allow for education and advocacy to reach a wider audience. The World Health Organization states that it is important to acknowledge that mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.

Mental health and mental illnesses not only have an enormous impact on physical and social aspects, but financial as well. With increased health risks and sometimes need for medication, there is also a global spending of $1 trillion in lost productivity in the work force each year.

Recently, terms such as self-care, well-being, and wellness have begun to take on a new meaning that includes conversations about the importance to set and maintain a routine at home during quarantine, connect with loved ones through digital mediums and focus thoughts on the present. These are mental health support strategies that help individuals take control of their state of mind and helps ground them in a time when a person may feel they have no control.

Laura Yanez, executive director of NAMI Western Nevada (National Alliance on Mental Illness), said there is a substantial increase of people calling the Nevada Warmline, operated by NAMI Western Nevada, a non-crisis, confidential, phone service that offers support and resources for callers, due to mental health issues and the effects of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic must share its centrality and include the state of people’s mental health. Individuals and their families need to know they are not alone.

Karen Carey, executive director of Tahoe Youth and Family Services, a non-profit organization that provides different services concerned with mental health, noted that with the partial reopening of businesses and public places, families and individuals will again be faced with a new wave of worry and stressors.

The pressure to return to a rhythm of normalcy could put people under duress when trying to work around social and economic needs. It will also cause, yet another, disruption to routines and treatment essential for management and recovery for individuals with a mental health disorder and their caregivers.

Both Tahoe Youth & Family Services and NAMI Western Nevada provide mental health services for the rural Nevada communities and their members going through any issues with their mental health.

TYFS remains open and offers counseling and support services through video calls using Telehealth, as well as continued housing programs for young-adult youth. They have offices in South Lake Tahoe and Gardnerville. There is also a Facebook Live! Chat, Wednesdays at 1 p.m., that addresses the coronavirus and its impact on you and your family. If you want to make an appointment for counseling for your adolescent or yourself, call Tahoe Youth & Family Services at 530-541-2445 or 775-782-4202. Information on services is also available on their website at tahoeyouth.org.

NAMI WNV provides a Family Support Group Wednesday nights from 7-8 p.m. and a NAMI Connection (peer support) Group, Thursday nights, both via Zoom. There will also be a Family-to-Family class offered to loved ones of a person living with a mental health issue that will begin June 9, also via Zoom. For anyone looking to speak to someone one-on-one, again, there is the NAMI WNV WARMLINE, at 775) 241-4212. For information on classes and support groups call 775-419-8865.

Through each transition that comes along with the pandemic, we can all work together to provide support for anyone who is in need.