Navigating your mental health needs can be difficult, especially given the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. But mental health experts agree that it’s an area
of our well-being we can’t ignore.
Some groups are more at risk for mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reported in 2020 the highest incidence of mental illness in people of two or more races, says Dr. La Keita Carter, owner and CEO of the Institute for HEALing, LLC, a private mental health practice in Owings Mills.
Jenn Richards, clinical director at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, says that if you have a history of mental illness or substance abuse, you are more susceptible.
“The brain is poorly impacted when we’re under a lot of stress so we are unable to as efficiently plan, motivate, organize, problem solve or critically think,” Carter says. “When we address some of that stress, we’re able to think more clearly.”
We can’t necessarily control our thoughts, but we can control our behavior, Richards adds.
Ground yourself in your physical body by closing your eyes and taking deep breaths, pressing your feet to the floor and squeezing your hands tightly together, she says. “For some people, self-care might look like reading a book, and for other people, self-care might look like running,” Richards says.
Be mindful of what you consume, she adds. Rather than being so overwhelmed with negative news posts, you could use social media to connect with experts and friends and foster genuine, positive relationships.
Not taking a break isn’t an option, Carter says. “It’s like saying, ‘I don’t have time to take
my vehicle to get an oil change.’ If you don’t make time, your vehicle will make you make the time,” she says.
You don’t need to go it alone. Every state offers mental health services for the uninsured. “The Black Mental Health Alliance has a referral service, and the Pro Bono Counseling Project also has hundreds of volunteer therapists including myself,” Carter says.
Developing a relationship with a professional early on can ensure he or she gets to know you and are better equipped to treat you when a crisis does come, Richards says.