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Column: HCHS and Senior Life Solutions address May Mental Health Awareness Month

Column: HCHS and Senior Life Solutions address May Mental Health Awareness Month

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Heidi Metz of HCHS

Heidi Metz, Program Director of HCHS Senior Life Solutions Department.

This past year presented many different challenges and obstacles that tested everyone's strength and resiliency. The global pandemic forced people to cope with situations never before imagined and many struggled with mental health as a result.

The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and communities. Now, more than ever, area communities need to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. That’s why during Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Hancock County Health System and Senior Life Solutions is highlighting #Tools2Thrive. It offers guidance as to what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, build resiliency, and continue to cope with the obstacles of COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, many people found themselves struggling with mental health challenges for the first time. During the month of May, HCHS is focusing on tools that can help people process the events of the past year and the feelings that surround them, while also building up skills and supports that extend beyond COVID-19.

The past year forced many to accept tough situations over which they had little control. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals that took the anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org, 79 percent showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. However, there are practical tools that can help improve mental health. The HCHS and Senior Life Solutions program is focused on managing anger and frustration, recognizing when trauma may be affecting mental health, challenging negative thinking patterns, and making time to take care of yourself.

It’s important to remember that working on mental health and finding tools that help takes time. Change won’t happen overnight. By focusing on small changes, people can move through the stressors of the past year and develop long-term strategies to support them on an ongoing basis.

HCHS and Senior Life Solutions wants everyone to know that mental illness is real and recovery is possible. Finding what works may not be easy, but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, and physical and mental health.

For more information, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may or call HCHS’s Senior Life Solutions Department: 641-843-5300.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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