To help millions of Americans deal with the stress created
by the tough economic times, Mental Health America is recommending strategies to
help people feel better and protect their mental health.
One recent poll reported
that nearly 60 percent of respondents said the current economic situation is a
cause of stress in their lives. And one-quarter indicated that anxiety is
“This is a terribly
challenging time for many people,” said David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO
of Mental Health America. “But there are things people can do to take care of
themselves during stressful times such as leaning on the people who care about
them and focusing on the positives in life.”
Here are some simple
steps people can take to protect their mental health.
Take a problem solving approach:
· Sit down and
list your problems and some possible solutions. Weigh pros and cons, and once
you have some possible solutions, break them into manageable chunks. This
process not only can produce concrete answers, but offers a sense of
organization and control at a time that may feel chaotic and confusing.
Shift your thinking:
· Review the
skills and strengths that have helped you rise to challenges in the past. You
can rely on those abilities again now. Try not to blame yourself for matters
that may not have been in your control.
· You may feel
like you don’t want to worry your loved ones. But chances are they want to help.
You can just enjoy each other’s company or, if you’re in a relationship, work
with your partner to solve financial problems together instead of isolating
yourself and struggling alone.
Focus on positive aspects of your
· Sure you have
worries, but you are likely to have a lot to be grateful for. Thinking about
those positives—or writing them down—can boost your mood.
Take good care of yourself:
Exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep and taking time to relax
are essential. You’ll be able to cope better with stress and take care
of those who depend on you if you find even a few minutes each day to
refuel. Beware of turning to alcohol to relax. It may seem to offer a
release but actually puts more stress on your body and can drag down
Watch for signs of excessive
· Be aware of
irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, stomach pain and fatigue. You
might also see if you’ve developed some unhealthy behaviors, like repeatedly
checking the economic news that mostly feed your fears.
Get professional help if you need it:
· Some people
feel it’s a sign of weakness to see a mental health professional, but it can be
a sign of great strength to take the steps necessary to get your life back on
For more information or
referrals to local services, visit the Mental Health America website at
Through its national
Resource Center, Mental Health America offers information and referrals to local
resources and services. Individuals also may take Mental Health America’s
anonymous depression screening test at
www.depressionscreening.org. Or you can use one of the free, anonymous Cognimmune screening tools to learn if you are suffering depression, stress, anxiety or other mental illnesses by clicking here .
If you or someone you
know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to
reach a 24 hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.