May is Mental Health Awareness month. Wow, do we ever need a month to focus on our mental health! I have to admit I feel somewhat hypocritical writing this from a position of being an “expert.” Sure, I have a degree that gives me additional insight into why we are struggling more than ever after less than two full months of unprecedented uncertainty and fear. But, I have been struggling too, all of us have. And I need to remind myself, and you, gracious reader, that that is okay. This is not a “normal” time if there ever was one. We need to extend ourselves grace and patience and do so for our fellow citizens.
Uncertainty creates an increase in anxiety and can create some strange behaviors in response. When things feel out of control, we often choose to take control of a small risk and eliminate it completely so we feel safer overall, this is zero-risk bias and explains the empty toilet paper aisles. Those of us with children may notice some regression during this time. Young children having meltdowns you thought they outgrew, pre-teens suddenly wanting time to cuddle, teenagers asking for help with homework they have always mastered themselves. We all crave security and safety in a time of fear and unknowns. We need to pay attention to ourselves and others to create awareness of our mental health.
The last few months have caused a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are fine, others are a struggle—and that is typical. Be patient if you have a down day and practice some self-care. That can be watching your favorite movie, making yourself a comforting meal, getting out in nature, allowing time to cuddle with a pet, or phoning a friend. If you are still struggling—reach out! We have some amazing resources in this community. The easiest way to see all of these resources is to go to healthygrandcounty.org.
We have thirteen therapists in Grand County that have a wide range of experience. We also have a program through the Grand County Rural Health Network to pay for mental health therapy with one of these wonderful people if you are uninsured or underinsured. I serve as the Behavioral Health Navigator for the county and can help you come up with a plan that works for you to improve your mental wellness at no cost. This great program is funded by Middle Park Health with additional support from Winter Park Resort, Snow Mountain Ranch, Grand County Rural Health Network, Mind Springs Health, and Grand County and is free to all Grand County residents. You can call or text me at (970) 531.4669 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind Springs also has a phone service they are offering during this pandemic that is free and confidential if you feel you need to talk someone. (877) 519-7505
The state has the free 24/7 hotline you can call or text if you are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis and a free 24/7 warmline you can call or text if you need to speak to someone due to distress. This number will also connect you with the 24/7 crisis clinician that can meet with you in person if needed. (844) 493-8255 or text TALK to 38255
You are not alone, you just have to reach out. Together we are Grand.
Sue Johnson, LCSW
Grand County Behavioral Health Navigator