May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a good time to refocus on mental well-being. The potential mental health effects from the COVID-19 pandemic are profound. The pandemic has been associated with uncertainty, school closures, shutdowns, social isolation, and economic vulnerability— these stressors can be linked to mental health issues. COVID-19’s mental health consequences are likely to be present for longer and peak later than the actual pandemic.
Then add the war in Ukraine, economic downturns, racial injustices, and political unrest, just to name a few, and what we all encountered was mental well-being moments that challenged us.
Research has studied the effect of large-scale traumas and disasters on communities. Not only has this pandemic caused mental health challenges for many of us, we have also been given the opportunity to practice and develop our resilience. Some people think of resilience as a trait one is born with (hardiness) or an outcome (presence of post-traumatic stress or growth).
Resilience is neither lucky or passive and can be strengthened with practice. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity. When we get far enough past an adversity to look back with perspective, we can consider its effects on our lives and identities, reflect on the skills we developed, the actions we took, the lessons we learned, and the reasons we kept going.
Asking ourselves “what do I do when times get hard?” reminds us of our personal skills and characteristics that we can use. The question “Who helps me when times get hard and who can I help?” address our social supports and sense of connection. Finally, asking ourselves “Who do I want to be when this is over and what will it have meant for me?” helps us to focus on a sense of meaning and purpose.
“Think of resilience like a seesaw or balance scale where negative experiences tip the scale towards negative outcomes, positive experiences towards positive outcomes, and shifting the fulcrum so that the scale can handle more negative experiences without leading to negative outcomes,” said Dr. Travis Mickelson, mental health integration director for Intermountain Healthcare.
If you want to speak to someone, you can call Intermountain’s Behavioral Health Navigation Line at 833-442-2211. The Behavioral Health Navigation Service is a new service provided by Intermountain and designed to help the community find the resources that they need.
The Behavioral Health Navigation services is a singular phone number where you can call in and speak with caregivers in our organization to be directed to the right service, and as needed scheduled with an appointment, or referred to Intermountain’s Behavioral Health Connect Care, which is a new service virtual service working to address needs for people or the loved ones in real time.
For more information, visit intermountainhealthcare.org.