EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Monday is World Mental Health Day, and it’s a chance to “rekindle our efforts to protect and improve mental health,” according to the World Health Organization.
Health experts say the COVID-19 pandemic created a global mental health crisis, with a 25% rise in anxiety and depressive disorders in the first year of the outbreak.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming.”
According to the CDC, 45,979 deaths in 2020 were the result of suicide — “about one death every 11 minutes.”
In that same year, about 12.2 million U.S. adults seriously considered suicide, 3.2 million planned an attempt, and 1.2 million went through with a suicide attempt, according to the CDC.
The rising cost of living and financial stress, combined with the pandemic has made it tough for many around the globe, but researchers in Britain say you’re not alone.
“The stats are similar in the U.S. and U.K. about one in six people every week experience diagnosable levels of mental illness,” said Dr. Antonis Kousoulis, director for England and Wales at the Mental Health Foundation.
Britain’s Mental Health Foundation studied the best ways to cope with such problems as anxiety and depression. Experts have offered the following 11 tips to boost mental health:
- Get closer to nature
- Learn to understand and manage your feelings
- Talk to someone you trust for support
- Be aware of using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings
- Try to make the most of your money and get help with problem debts
- Get more from your sleep
- Be kind and help create a better world
- Keep moving
- Eat healthy food
- Be curious and open-minded to new experiences
- Plan things to look forward to
Experts say the stigma remains the largest barrier to effective suicide prevention.
“The main stigma is that it’s your fault if you’re struggling,” Kousoulis said.
But there are ways to recognize if someone needs help, and recognizing the signs is key to keeping those around you safe.
“Are there aspects of our lives that are suffering? Sleep is quite often the first one,” Kousoulis said. “Any changes in behavior, motivation at work, being invested in the relationships we have.”
Experts say it’s important for parents to listen to their kids from an early age.
According to the CDC, suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2020 among the 10-14 and 25-34 age groups.
“There is something about our society that demonizes negative emotions. You don’t want sadness, we don’t want anger, we don’t want stress, but these are valuable signs that something is going on,” Kousoulis said.