Mental Health Awareness Week is upon us! It’s only fitting that we take this week as an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the importance of taking care of one’s mental wellbeing. The overarching theme of this year’s mental health week is kindness. Kindness has consistently been one of the most valuable additions to a person's life when it comes to maintaining a positive, healthy outlook. Whether giving or receiving kindness, your life, and the lives of those around you, is likely to be enriched simply by its presence.

When we think about mental wellbeing, we often think in terms of mental health versus mental illness. In reality, mental health is a spectrum, and it’s likely that you move along that spectrum in one way or another from day to day. It’s impacted by both internal factors, such as self-esteem and confidence, as well as external factors like family life and physical health. Mental health awareness is all about being conscious that the status of your mental health and the mental health of those around you is something that we all have the capability to impact. Through simple acts of kindness, you are able to spread light and joy to others who will in turn spread that positivity to someone else in their life. Human kindness is as contagious as any disease known to man.

There are many unique challenges that we face in these modern times. With the advent of the internet, it has become increasingly easy for a person to feel a sense of overwhelming loneliness. The coronavirus pandemic has made this an even more frequent occurrence as we’re all encouraged to practice social distancing. While this tactic is certainly helping to flatten the curve when it comes to reported cases of COVID-19, it has led to nearly half of all adults reporting a negative impact on their mental health.

Social isolation is an often overlooked contributor to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Studies have even shown that social isolation is associated with an increased risk of early mortality. The conditions created by the shelter in place orders are also having a significant impact on family dynamics.

This is a dark topic and it can often be difficult to talk about, but these challenges are real. Many of us are struggling with internal conflict that is often too difficult for even close friends to recognize, especially now that we’re spending less time with many of them due to social distancing practices. You’ve surely heard “we’re all in this together” a million times since the start of this lockdown, but it’s about time we all come together and actually put that philosophy into action.

United Nations COVID-19 Response

One of the most powerful things that you can do to help a friend is to simply reach out to them and check in on how they’re doing. You would be surprised by the impact a simple phone call can have on another person’s wellbeing. Many of us have found new hobbies that are well suited to life in isolation such as binging popular TV shows, but there are plenty of things that are still better with friends. Even if you’re just going to watch a movie, you could always call a buddy and watch it with them as if they’re sitting right there with you.

Here at Tellus, we typically specialize in personal finance related topics, so it only seems appropriate that we discuss the relationship between your financial situation and mental health. It may seem intuitive, but your financial position does significantly contribute to the level of stress and anxiety you experience. For many people, financial instability is linked to worsening mental health, and that state of depression, stress, or anxiety, makes it even more difficult to appropriately implement a plan to improve your finances. This cycle can be extremely difficult to break, but with a long term treatment plan in place, you have the ability to overcome this challenge.

Too often, people think they need to tackle their financial hurdles (or other issues that are perceived to be the cause of their mental health problems) first, and by doing so, they will feel less stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, depression can cause people to feel as though they’ve lost control and subsequent decreased energy levels may lead them to ultimately avoid their problems altogether. When problems are avoided, they usually won’t improve, and this leads to a worsening mental state.

To overcome this, you should start by addressing your mental health first and foremost. Take the time to address your needs for sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Also be sure to allow yourself time for leisure activities that have made you happy in the past, even if you don’t necessarily feel up to it in the moment. Finally, set aside the time you need to address the major needs in your life, like finances. It’s important to schedule this time and try your best to stick to it. However, if you’re unable to follow through, don’t beat yourself up over it. Simply schedule another time and try again.

If you’re struggling with your mental wellbeing, please ask for help. Talk to your friends, family, or mental health professionals who may be able to offer guidance. If you are in crisis, please utilize some of the resources available to you such as: the Crisis Text Line or National Suicide Prevention hotline. Remember these feelings are normal, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.