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Medical experts stress the importance of mental health amid the pandemic

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 4:28 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - September is National Suicide Prevention Month. With that comes the conversation about mental health, one that has become more prevalent during the pandemic.

Pat Schultz, an outpatient therapist with Avera, says stress levels are elevated for everyone during this time of uncertainty.

“People are under a lot of different stress," Schultz said. "There’s stress because people’s jobs are changing, there’s stress because people’s kids are home, there’s quarantining going on, there’s just so many different things.”

Schultz says it’s important to remember that asking for help isn’t something to be ashamed of. In fact, you may be surprised how many people are going through a similar situation.

“People are always worried because they’ll think that somebody thinks that there is something wrong with them, or they’re crazy because they aren’t doing well,” Schutlz said. “And actually, everybody can have different things going on mental health-wise, just because it doesn’t show up on a blood test, doesn’t show up on an X-ray, and is a non-tangible thing, does not mean that it isn’t an important thing to be paying attention to."

Sanford Integrated Health Therapist Karla Salem says, one of the biggest reasons mental health is a challenge amid the pandemic is because many coping mechanisms people would typically turn to are unavailable.

“The COVID season has added another layer of moving parts for a lot of folks," Salem said. "Instead of just getting in the car and going, you have to think, should I wear a mask, what will they think if I wear a mask, what will they think if I don’t wear a mask? I think it has caused a little acceleration of what I call a busy brain, or it could be anxiety.”

One of the keys to staying mentally fit is finding something that brings you happiness. In addition, make sure you’re eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health or having thoughts of suicide, call the 211 Helpline.

Other professional resources to reach out to include: Avera, Sanford Health, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The National Suicide Hotline’s number is 800-273-8255.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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