CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is something that has really been brought to the forefront over the past year.
Mental illness impacts millions of Americans, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.
But, when left untreated, it can be dangerous.
Health experts say neglecting mental health and letting it go untreated can be just as detrimental as neglecting a medical issue.
“We’re all human, we all have mental health, we all have physical health, we just need to know how to take care of it,” said Barri Faucett, director of Prevent Suicide West Virginia.
During the pandemic, it has been challenging to have social interactions, which has made people feel isolated.
“The rates of mental illness have gone up during the pandemic, even in our own region. For example, there has been an increase in fatal drug overdoses in West Virginia,” explained Dr. James Griffith, chair of WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry.
According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, there were 395 deaths by suicide in West Virginia in 2020. It’s a tragic number and one health experts say is another reason for getting the vaccine on top of the protection it provides from COVID-19.
“I think humans are social beings and being able to socialize with friends, family, loved ones, and co-workers lifts everyone’s spirits. But the path to that is getting vaccinated so they can do so safely,” Griffith said.
Self care is another way to lift spirits if you’re feeling anxious, like taking a walk or getting a good night sleep. But the ultimate message experts want to share this month is that ‘it’s okay to not be okay.’
If you or someone you know needs professional help, some help lines and resources are listed below:
- 2-1-1 or go to 211.org