By Allison Whisenhunt, LCSW
Director of Behavioral Health and Care Management, Columbia Memorial Hospital
For many, the term “mental health” carries a negative stigma, but “physical health” doesn’t. Yet our mental and physical health are connected, and both contribute to our well-being.
We often seek help from a medical care provider when we don’t feel physically well. So why do we hesitate to get help from a mental health provider when we are feeling stressed, have problems relating to others, or struggle to get through the day?
“Everyone needs to manage their mental health, not just those who suffer from severe and/or chronic mental illness,” said Rebecca Larson, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) supervisor at CMH. Living through a pandemic is not a normal experience, and it has negatively affected many people’s mental health. “It is normal to be activated by all of the surrounding chaos that this pandemic has created,” commented Paige Sutton, Clinical Social Worker for CMH Specialty clinics.
In fact, 79 percent of people screened at MHAscreening.org showed signs of moderate to severe anxiety.
As Tammy Ray, an LCSW at CMH Primary Care in Warrenton said, “We are not given tools to help ourselves which can add increased anxiety, low energy and shame. And, we don’t ‘get over’ things; we work through what’s going on by first acknowledging something has changed for us and then adding new awareness and skills to our toolboxes.”
Let’s ditch the shame and stigma around mental health and embrace it as an important part of our well-being. Let’s admit that we all can benefit from some support in managing negative emotions, recognizing trauma, challenging negative thinking patterns, and identifying tools to better cope with life’s challenges.
I encourage you to seek help from any of the mental health professionals in our community. CMH’s team works with patients in the hospital, emergency department, and clinics. We offer counseling services or can connect you with other help.
“I really hope that our community knows that we are here for each other and that we can work together to lift each other up,” said Larson.
Call your CMH primary care provider’s office or 503-338-4046 to request an appointment or seek help.
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