October 10 is World Mental Health Day and I encourage you to take action. Taking action may have a different meaning for each of us and that is good, because mental health needs are different for everyone. I personally am not a trained counselor or therapist, but I do like to help others. My father suffered from mental health issues and I can personally share the impact it can have on him, his family, and friends.
While you cannot act as a therapist for your own friends and family, simply sharing and listening can be enough. Providing a non-judgmental ear, and sharing your own experiences can encourage someone who is struggling to reach out to professionals.
The campaign is being launched by the World Health Organization. I am more of a resource sort of individual, so with that said, I want to share the campaign materials that focus on depression and suicide. According to the CDC, 40% of Americans are struggling with depression. This is compared to 11% pre-COVID. The campaign materials include eight resource materials targeting various audiences. Instead of sharing them in this blog, go check out the site.
Recently I was certified to teach Mental Health First Aid. MHFA teaches people how to help someone developing a mental health problem or someone experiencing a mental health crisis. It helps you to identify, understand, and respond. You learn about depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, and substance abuse disorders. The eight hour course is available online or blended, and you can participate in it here.
I would also like to promote some of the work of my fellow colleagues in University of Maryland Extension. The project is titled, Maryland Rural Opioid Technical Assistance program. The focus is to increase rural capacity to identify, respond to, and address opioid-related needs for prevention through research and outreach. They offer a variety of workshops including Mental Health First Aid, most of which are no charge.
While helping others is always commendable, maintaining your own mental health is also important. I ask you to take action on World Mental Health Day — reach out to friends and family, and remember to take time for self-care.