Reach Out If You’re Struggling

Reach Out If You’re Struggling

Reach Out If You’re Struggling

Lee esto en EspañolFeeling stressed and worried seem like the “new normal” in the time of COVID-19. The long uncertainty of the pandemic has been a lot to handle.

But many people are feeling more than just stressed out. If you’re feeling more anxious or depressed than usual, you are not alone. And it may be time to reach out for help.

The disruption to our lives, plus the threat of possibly getting a deadly virus, is leading many people to have problems with anxiety and depression, says the American Psychological Association. leaving site icon

Not surprisingly, a new report from the advocacy group Mental Health America leaving site icon  shows that the number of people looking for mental health help has dramatically increased since 2019.

If you think you may be having mental health issues beyond everyday stress and anxiety, ask yourself:

  • Is this normal for me?
  • Am I feeling this way day after day, week after week?
  • Are others in my life expressing concerns about me?
What You Can Do

There are many things you can’t control about COVID-19, like infection rates, if others wear masks or when it may end. But you can control the steps you take to care for yourself. If you’re having a hard time with anxiety or depression, reach out to others. Maintaining personal connections is important, even if it can’t be in person. Be sure to talk to friends and family about how you’re feeling. 

It’s also important to take time to do the things that usually help you relieve stress and anxiety. That may be spending more time outdoors, exercising, gardening, dancing, meditating — whatever helps you.

If you’ve already done what you can and you’re still not feeling better, you don’t have to just live with it, says Dr. Tom Allen, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan medical director. It may be time to get help from a mental health professional.

Some signs you might need help from a professional:

  • Your reactions to life are negative.
  • You’re feeling down most of the time.
  • You feel isolated and distanced from others.
  • You’re not enjoying the things you used to.
  • You’re wanting to give up or having thoughts about death or suicide. 
Finding Help

Help can come in many forms. You can start by talking to your primary care doctor. Your doctor can screen you for depression and anxiety and may provide treatment. Or your doctor may have suggestions about who you can see for help. If you don’t have a doctor, call the number on your member ID card for help getting started.

If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through your job, explore the counseling or other care available to you through that program.

You may also find mental health support through your city or state. Or look for resources online. Two good places to start:

If you have a diagnosed mental health condition or substance use disorder, be sure to reach out to your behavioral health provider, and be honest about how you’re feeling, Dr. Allen said.

Just as people with pre-existing physical illness are more likely to get physically ill from the coronavirus, people whose mental health is already compromised are at greater risk of worsening mental illness, says Mental Health America. leaving site icon

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Seek help if you’re struggling.

Sources: Finding local mental health resources during the COVID-19 crisis, leaving site icon American Psychological Association, 2020; Find Treatment, leaving site icon Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2021; Spotlight 2021 - COVID-19 and Mental Health, leaving site icon  Living with Mental Illness During COVID-19 Outbreak – Preparing for Your Wellness, leaving site icon Mental Health America, 2021.

Originally published 1/7/2021; Reviewed 2022